Photo Credit: FVV & ZSW | Dirk Lässig


Fuel Cells - The Powertrain Transition II: New study published by VDMA, FVA and FVV

The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association VDMA together with the Research Associations for Drive Technology (FVA) and Combustion Engines (FVV) publishes trend analysis on the role of fuel cell technology in the mobility sector // In focus: Market trends for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and mobile machinery up to 2040 // Follow-up to the 2018 study "The Powertrain Transition"

From 2030 onwards, the fuel cell will play a significant role in the powertrain of passenger cars, commercial vehicles and mobile machinery. Sales of 11 billion euros for fuel cell components in passenger cars alone can be expected in Europe in 2040. As a result, around 68,000 jobs could be created. These are the core results of the new VDMA study "The Powertrain Transition - Impact of Fuel Cell Technology on the Machinery and Component Supplier Industries", prepared by FEV Consulting GmbH.

The new trend analysis focused on passenger cars, commercial vehicles and mobile machinery for important markets up to 2040, when fuel cell vehicles (FCEV) are expected to have a 12% share of the global market.

  • Commercial vehicles and mobile machinery: The heavy-duty commercial vehicle segment will play a key role in the rollout of fuel cell technology. In Europe in particular, there is a clear driver for fuel cell powertrains given its strict emission limits and the growing demand for zero-emission vehicles. Due to the high energy throughput, the development of the hydrogen infrastructure will also be largely determined by commercial vehicles. Among the nonroad applications, forklift trucks, rail and marine applications in particular have a relevant share of fuel cell powertrains. Due to the limited overall market size for these applications, however, it is expected that the sales volumes of fuel cell variants will be significantly lower than those of the passenger car market.
  • Passenger cars: According to the study, from 2030 onwards electrification in the passenger car sector will be backed up by an increasing number of fuel cell vehicles. Japan and South Korea are already pioneering the deployment of fuel cell vehicles as part of a hydrogen economy. As a result, FCEVs there will already achieve a relevant market share of up to 6 percent (Japan) by 2030. The three major sales markets China, the USA and Europe will follow with a slight delay. In total, sales of fuel cell vehicles will increase from 1 million to over 10 million in the period from 2030 to 2040, corresponding to a market share of 12 percent.
  • Component suppliers: Almost 70 percent of the sales potential of powertrains is located in the fuel cell system - consisting of fuel cell stacks, additional components and the hydrogen tank system. Another 30 percent is accounted for by the traction battery and the electric drive unit. In the five markets under consideration, a corresponding sales potential for fuel cell and hydrogen tank systems of around 75 billion euros per year is expected. If profits, overheads, materials and raw materials are discounted from this figure, more than 20 billion euros of pure added value remains, 3 billion euros of which could be generated in Europe.

In the next few years, according to the study, around 5 billion euros per year will be invested worldwide in research and development alone. One of the prerequisites for this is solid public funding: "Public funds must be invested at the beginning of the value chain - in research and science, in vocational qualification and thus also in intelligent production technologies and products," comments Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of the VDMA, on the study results. At the same time, the transformation should not be based on a single technology only. Rather, the aim is to develop the best possible solution for the respective application, open to all available technologies. "Politicians are called upon to create planning security for the companies by setting long-term framework conditions".

The Future of Mobility | Fuel Cell Technology managed by VDMA


Lyoner Strasse 18
60528 Frankfurt am Main
T +49 69 6603 1345