The global trend observed is the exponential increase in year-on-year budget for hydrogen research, production, and application as countries recognize hydrogen as potential pathway for carbon neutrality. Cost competitiveness will determine the degree to which hydrogen will play a role in driving the trend forward. Cost-effective, low-carbon production is the primary target of most countries.
The development of hydrogen fuel cells for mobility applications is gaining traction, and given the various public and private sector initiatives to propel hydrogen mobility, there are immense growth opportunities worldwide for fuel cell trucks. Propelling fuel cell trucks will be largely driven by incentives available for fleets, especially during the initial transition period, to alleviate pressures of high vehicle cost, infrastructure installment, and hydrogen price. Attractive incentive programs are required to motivate fleets to adopt fuel cell trucks.
Overall, the mobility industry is at crossroads to take critical decisions and strategic choices to ensure long-term growth and sustainability. Technology leadership, financial prowess, and robust supply chain are essential to be competitive in emerging market opportunities. Manufacturers, suppliers, and relevant ecosystem participants are faced with the objective to establish technology progress, infrastructure footprint, and cost favorability to enable commercial-scale deployment of fuel cell trucks.
One of the major hurdles to transition to fuel cell trucks among many is the lack of sufficient refueling infrastructure and the limitation of onboard hydrogen storage. The trucks that are currently in operation offer only restricted range, as companies are working to push the boundaries of current limitations.
Governments across the world are engaging with major companies, research institutes, and material labs to explore the potential of fuel cell trucks while offering financial support, technological guidance, and dedicated test facilities. Platform modularity is imperative considering the limited window of transition period, to enable companies achieve economies of scale globally.
Currently, there are several medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell trucks in the trial phase that have been launched in limited numbers, with more models in the development phase and targets to commence trials and large-scale commercialization. Companies are working to overcome the barriers that limit the performance of fuel cell trucks and achieve product metrics that will enable fuel cell trucks to be positioned along with battery electric solutions.
Companies are expanding into new markets through direct ventures or partnerships, with very high rate of collaborations and joint ventures between incumbent participants, powertrain companies, Tier 1 suppliers, and infrastructure companies in the recent years.
Supply chain readiness will be vital for manufacturers, to ramp up production volumes when the market demand for fuel cell trucks surges. As companies are provided with the targets to reduce overall fleet emission, they will be forced to push zero-emission trucks as a viable solution for customers. With fuel cell trucks being a prospective solution for long-haul applications, companies need to expedite technological choices and product development processes, and validate vehicle performance at the earliest.