Last year saw a staggering increase of 82 percent in sales of hydrogen powered cars as dealers cut enormous amounts from prices to convince buyers to switch to the fuel.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) have struggled to catch on with many motorists unaware of the technology and a lack of available models.
Toyota’s leading example, the Mirai, went from just 1,770 units sold worldwide in 2020 to 5,918 last year.
Hyundai’s FCEV the Nexo fared slightly better, selling 6,781 in 2020 and 9,620 in 2021.
FCEVs are fuelled with pure hydrogen gas stored in a tank on the vehicle.
Similar to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, they can fuel in less than four minutes and have a driving range over 300 miles.
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Market analyst IDTechEX said: “At face value, this seems positive for the fuel cell industry. But when you look closer at the drivers for this growth, it shows the lengths to which Toyota, Hyundai, and the Governments supporting the rollout of fuel cell vehicles are having to go to build this momentum.
“For example, in California, the Mirai was reportedly available at a 65 percent discount from its $50,000 (£35,000) list price.
“With Toyota offering a $20,000 (£13,000) discount in addition to US federal and state-level tax incentives totaling a further $12,500 (£7,000), the Mirai was available in the US in 2021 for a shade under $18,000 (£11,000).
“To sweeten the deal further, Toyota also offered a $15k fuel credit for the first three years of operation. A $50,000 (£35,000) car for less than $20,000 (£13,000) with 100,000 kilometres of free fuel is undoubtedly an appealing deal.”
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But there is better news for the technology when it comes to commercial vehicles.
Vauxhall plans to introduce the 249-mile-range Vivaro-e Hydrogen van to the UK next year, while Renault is promising fuel cell vans for sale in 2023.
IDTechEX explained: “Hydrogen fuel cells have low prospects in cars. However, the range and refuelling advantages mean that heavy duty applications have long offered a potential use for the technology.”
There are already hydrogen-powered buses in use in London manufactured by a UK firm.