By Mila Marinkovic, Senior Delivery Consultant
The evolution of the automotive industry over the recent years has forced both suppliers and OEMs to adapt to new ways of thinking very quickly as growth spikes and massive innovation have driven substantial change. Autonomous driving, connectivity and electrification remain the main trends, but fuel cell technology is coming to the fore as an important part of the future solution too.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology has been on the agenda for several years but has been less talked about amongst the noise around electric vehicles. With the increasing need for battery driven electric cars drives the next question around resources like what infrastructure is already in place and what is still required to sustain the growing market. As it stands, having only electric vehicles to replace a traditional engine brings its own challenges and will create future problems when it comes to basic infrastructure issues around electricity supply. In turn the industry will need to look to increased electricity prices and increased need in charging stations which in turn could lead to not being able to support environmental goals. Hydrogen fuel cell technology can provide diversity and resilience to energy availability and distribution.
Currently, Toyota and Hyundai are the two brands taking the lead when it comes to the production of fuel cell technology cars, supported by engineering firms like Garrett Motion and Faurecia, whose JV with Michelin is called ‘Symbio’. Hydrogen is considered an alternative fuel and alongside manufacturers, the Department of Energy is the US is leading research in to making fuel cell technology a viable and affordable option as an alternative fuel. The OEM sector is advancing at pace, driving competition in the hydrogen power sector, with advanced systems already in testing for electric cars but also light to heavy large scale commercial vehicles in the EU. Integrating industry standard solutions that meet the necessary global emission and sustainability guidelines are priority goals for a number of research and manufacturing initiatives within the OEM supply chain.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is a serious contender as the world focuses more and more on emission control. Like with many new technologies it comes with its challenges – the main being cost. Companies who are looking at the market from all angles are likely be the most successful to pivot and adapt. There are still questions surrounding what the future will hold for fuel cell powered vehicles but compared to some years ago there is clear progress and interest concerning this topic.