Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles will be shut out of the future road freight mass market as they cannot compete on cost with their directly-electrified counterparts. The International Transport Forum has confirmed this due to new information feeding back.

Higher lifetime costs for Hydrogen vehicles compared to other electric vehicles are almost exclusively due to higher fuel costs. The International Transport Forum wrote in its Decarbonising Europe’s Trucks report that in 90% of scenarios explored, hydrogen vehicles wouldn’t be able to gain a market share of more than 10% by 2050.

The report itself analysed the cost of buying and owning a hydrogen vehicle for seven years versus battery electric and electric road system vehicles. The report did not finalise the lifetime cost for each vehicle type, but did admit a high degree of uncertainty on a number of variables for all vehicles, including hydrogen fuel costs. A best-case scenario for Hydrogen fuel vehicles would be to see the price of hydrogen fuel fall dramatically from 9.50 Euro per kg at the pump to just 1.50 Euro per kg in 2050, even a price of 2.50 Euro would give them a chance of competing.

Refuelling would also be a huge issue for Hydrogen vehicles as there is currently a lack of refuelling infrastructure across Europe. This would prevent the sector from scaling up to reduce costs the International Transport Forum has said. Any infrastructure build-out would be heavily dependent on financial support from the public purse “at significant costs.”

Any government in Europe also considering throwing cash at a hydrogen refuelling network run the risk of being left with stranded assets if hydrogen trucking does not scale up sufficiently. The lack of cost-competitiveness across the majority of the European market means that achieving the necessary economies of scale in vehicle production to bring down vehicle purchase prices and ensure high utilisation of refuelling infrastructure is likely to remain a huge challenge for Hydrogen Trucks.