KMPG Report Suggests Hydrogen to Overshadow Electric Power in the Future

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【Summary】It may seem like FCVs are on the losing end of the fight, but according to KPMG’s Global Automotive Executive Survey 2017 this may not be the case.

Original   Michael Cheng  ·  Jan 09, 2017 9:23 AM WST
author: Michael Cheng   

Most automakers are focused on bringing battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) to commercial markets. However, there are other types of technologies that may also be used for clean energy, including solar and hydrogen fuel cell (FCV). The latter is extremely promising; and from a long-term perspective, could dethrone electric as the main driver for sustainable power.

Out of the three options, which is the best?

The battle between BEVs, solar and FCVs has been ongoing for quite some time. Tesla CEO Elon Musk bashed FCV technology in 2015, suggesting that electric power is up to three times more efficient. He also mentioned that solar power could be used to supplement EVs via solar-powered charging stations, while waiting for solar technology to become directly usable for transportation (no solar-powered cars on the market - yet). It may seem like FCVs are on the losing end of the fight, but according to KPMG's Global Automotive Executive Survey 2017 this may not be the case.

"We believe hydrogen can help us contribute to the next 100 years of the automobile," said Bob Carter, senior vice-president at Toyota USA, at CES 2016.

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Reaching Full Maturity

Roughly 1,000 senior executives in the auto industry (i.e., global automakers, suppliers, dealers, financial services providers, car rental companies and mobility services providers) were surveyed for the report. Astonishingly, over 78 percent of the group believe that FCVs are viable, despite the initial domination of EVs in mainstream markets. The reason for this shift in forecasting trends is delayed supporting infrastructure for EVs. Around 68 percent of survey participants are of the view that BEVs will fail due to major obstacles related to user-friendly charging infrastructure.

By comparison, FCV stations can refuel cars quickly, similar to traditional fuel gas stations. On the other hand, BEVs require around 35 minutes of charging, which is why today's power stations are mostly located at parking lots, so that EV owners could do their errands while waiting for their car to charge.

As for other trends buzzing around the auto sector, the KMPG survey cited that most senior execs see private vehicle ownership to steadily decrease in the coming years. The report's findings suggest that 59 percent of participants and 35 percent of consumers who joined the survey believe over half of current car owners will not want to own a vehicle in eight years.

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What about Diesel Technology?

Diesel engines are getting phased out by green energy options on an industrial and commercial level. More than 50 percent of senior execs from the KMPG survey mentioned that it will likely be the first technology to disappear, as car manufacturers move towards BEVs and FCVs. Of course, fueling this trend are heavy regulatory restrictions on diesel-powered vessels. Furthermore, some laws that favor EVs have negatively impacted the adoption of diesel technology.

"Execs are hesitant regarding cooperation and unsolved infrastructure challenges. The reason for execs to believe in fuel cells may be their strong attachment to the existing infrastructures and traditional vehicle applications," said John Leech, KPMG's Automotive Leader UK, in the study.

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