Bosch Joins Race Towards Hydrogen Powertrains

Bosch has joined the rush to get ahead in hydrogen automotive powertrains with the signing of a partnership to develop fuel cell stacks.

Following on from several other hydrogen initiatives recently, it has signed the deal with Powercell Sweden AB to make polymer-electrolyte membrane fuel cells ready for production. Bosch will then manufacture the fuel cells under license and sell them globally to the automotive market, beginning in 2022.

Hydrogen is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative by the automotive industry with Bosch predicting that the mobile fuel-cell business is worth billions of euros with the expectation that one fifth of EVs will be powered by fuel cells by 2030. Furthermore, it believes that the best chance of fuel cell adoption will be in the commercial vehicle market, where vehicles need to be able to refuel quickly, currently possible in BEVs. Emissions goals set by the EU state that fleets must reduce their emissions by 25% by 2025, rising to 30% by 2030. Bosch says that the best chance of this happening is continual and increasing electrification of the vehicle powertrain, with which hydrogen fuel cells can play a vital part.

So far, the main barrier to the adoption of fuel cells has been cost. The stack amounts to more than two thirds of the cost of the total fuel cell system, meaning reducing that cost is of vital importance if more auto manufacturers are to pick up the technology. The cost of hydrogen also needs to fall. Currently the cost per kilogram regularly exceeds $5, whereas the cost per kilogram of fossil fuel gas is a fraction of this. However, Bosch does expect the price of hydrogen to fall as production increases in the coming years and we start to see more and more hydrogen-powered cars on the roads.

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