Market Adoption Update Regarding Battery vs. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles


In a previous article, we looked at how a long-term sustainable approach to e-Mobility will need to leverage both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) as complementary approaches that play important roles for achieving global zero emissions goals. This article provides a quick update on market adoption trends, projections, and usage scenarios for both BEVs and FCEVs.

Short Overview of Battery EVs and Fuel Cell EVs

Basically, batteries and fuel cells are just different ways to provide electricity for powering the electric drive motors in various types of vehicles. The main difference is how the electricity is produced and stored. BEVs store electricity from the grid and FCEVs produce electricity from hydrogen on board the vehicle. The sections below provide a snapshot of the key differences between BEVs and FCEVs.

Driving Range

Looking solely at the distance that can be achieved on a single battery charge or hydrogen fill-up, FCEVs have had an edge with an average of 300+ miles. However, there have been significant improvements with lithium-ion batteries and as a result BEV range has increased. There are now many light-duty BEVs capable of delivering a range between 200 and 300+ miles on a single charge.

Find out how improved battery technologies mitigate EV “Range Anxiety”

Find out how improved battery technologies mitigate EV “Range Anxiety”

Charging vs. Refueling

Looking at the availability of charging networks vs hydrogen refill stations provides another very important consideration, which has different implications depending on the EV deployment and usage scenarios.

On one hand, there are many more public charging stations for BEVs and the majority of consumer purchased BEVs also are charged overnight at home. According to the US Department of Energy, there were 101,213 charging stations in the US at the end of 2021 with a growth rate of 5000+ stations per quarter. This compares to only 100+ public hydrogen refueling stations in the US. According to, “At the end of 2021, 685 hydrogen refueling stations were in operation worldwide,” with Japan, Korea and China among the leaders.

The time it takes to charge a BEV battery is much longer than the typical 5 minutes to refuel an FCEV. When charging at home, this is not an issue but when needing to recharge on a long trip, it can become problematic. Overall, the charging vs. refueling tradeoffs are significantly different for consumers who need lots of available locations vs commercial fleets that often can use a single centralized location for recharging or refueling.

*Estimated charge time to 80% using a Level 3 fast charger

Initial Cost vs Operating Costs

Depending on the specific features, battery size and range, most BEVs have lower upfront costs than FCEVs. Given the maturity of the BEV charging infrastructure which uses electricity from existing grids, versus the lack of FCEV refueling infrastructure and the still developing hydrogen production ecosystem, BEVs also currently have an edge in operating costs.

However, for commercial fleet operations such as buses, delivery vehicles and other localized transportation systems that have the ability to establish private centralized hydrogen refueling stations, FCEVs can provide a more cost-effective alternative over the long term. Fuel cells are also projected to provide long-term savings for applications such as long-haul trucking, where the size and weight of batteries needed to carry large payloads are a barrier, and fuel cells offer a much lighter and costs-effective alternative.

Sustainability Comparison

Like BEVs that run on electricity from existing grids, FCEVs produce virtually no harmful exhaust emissions—they only emit water vapor and warm air. However, from an overall sustainability perspective, for both BEVs and FCEVs, it is important to consider how the sources of electricity and hydrogen are being managed and to access the full carbon impacts of upstream sources.

For example, even the most efficient Battery Electric Vehicle is not fully sustainable if the electricity it uses was produced by conventional coal fired generators. Similarly with fuel cells, if the hydrogen is produced via carbon emitting electrolysis processes, the FCEV is not truly sustainable. Therefore, in the long run, fully sustainable BEVs and FCEVs will both depend on upstream processes that use clean, renewable sources.

Market Adoption of BEVs and Fuel Cell EVs

According to a report from Research and Markets, “The North America Electric Vehicle Market is expected to record a CAGR of 39.4% from 2022 to 2029 to reach $570.47 billion by 2029 from an estimated $55.81 billion in 2022. By volume, this market is expected to reach 7.62 million units by 2029 from an estimated 1.54 million units in 2022, at a CAGR of 25.7% during the forecast period.”
Based on propulsion type, the FCEV segment is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the report’s forecast period. “The high growth is mainly driven by the increasing demand for vehicles with low carbon emissions, strict carbon emission norms, a growing emphasis on the adoption of FCEVs due to advantages such as fast refueling and increasing government initiatives and investments for advancing fuel cell technology.”
The commercial use segment, where fuel cells are strongest, is also expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The growth is mainly driven by the increase in fuel prices and stringent emission norms set by governments, the growing adoption of autonomous delivery vehicles, and the increasing adoption of electric buses and trucks.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “Electric car sales accounted for 9% of the global car market in 2021 – four-times their market share in 2019. All the net growth in global car sales in 2021 came from electric cars.
Sales were highest in China, where they tripled relative to 2020 to 3.3 million, and in Europe, where they increased by two-thirds year-on-year to 2.3 million. Together, China and Europe accounted for more than 85% of global electric car sales in 2021, followed by the United States (10%), where they more than doubled from 2020 to reach 630,000.”
Also, according to the IEA, at the end of 2021 there were “about 730 hydrogen refueling stations (HRSs) globally providing fuel for about 51,600 FCEVs. This represents an increase of almost 50% in the global stock of FCEVs and a 35% increase in the number of HRSs from 2020. Over 80% of the FCEVs on the road at the end of 2021 were light duty vehicles (LDVs) with the majority being passenger cars. Buses and trucks each constitute almost 10% of global FCEV stock.”
As a long-time innovator and trusted supplier to the automotive, transportation and energy industries, Interplex has played a key role in developing underlying technologies including efficient batteries, motors, power distribution systems, fuel cell components, and advanced assembly processes.

Industry leading Green Energy innovations from Interplex include Cell-PLX™ battery interconnect system that addresses the space constraints of EV battery modules, and the Fuel Cell Bipolar Plate technologies with low contact resistance that form the heart of advanced Fuel Cells.


Looking back over the past decade, about 120,000 electric cars were sold worldwide in 2012. In 2021, that many were sold each week!

Both Battery Electric Vehicles and Fuel Cells will play key, complementary roles in the achievement of sustainable e-Mobility goals. While BEVs currently have a huge advantage in sheer numbers and a lead in available charging stations, FCEVs have a faster growth rate and leading adoption rates in specific commercial related deployments.

Interplex is a highly committed, global participant in the efforts to achieve sustainable e-Mobility goals and plays a key, forward-looking role to help industry partners and the general public understand the stakes, tradeoffs, and opportunities that exist across the whole spectrum of sustainable solutions.
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