Fuel-cell cars will cost the same as the equivalent hybrid or range-extender by 2025, according to GM expert George Hansen.
Speaking to Autocar, Hansen predicted that huge cost reductions brought about by advances in materials and the volumes being produced will significantly drop the manufacturing cost of hydrogen-powered fuel cells.
By 2025 infrastructure will have improved to the point where hydrogen filling stations will be commonplace too, especially in hydrogen-advanced regions such as Germany, Korea, Japan and California.
Key to the fuel-cell cost reductions is the amount of ultra-expensive platinum used in the powertrain. Current fuel-cell cars such as GM’s Equinox SUV use around 80g of the precious metal, whereas Hansen is predicting that by 2025 it will be reduced to around 2g - a similar amount to that currently used in a catalytic convertor.
GM plans to put a fuel-cell car on general sale before then, though, in 2015. This so-called second-generation system will be both half the weight and size of the one being used in the Equinox. As such it can be made far more cheaply and be used to power a smaller car, possibly a small Chevy Volt-sized saloon. This system will also use just 30g of platinum.
GM engineers claim to have tested fuel-cell cars more than any other manufacturer. Engineers have now completed over two million kilometres in testing, using 100 different cars, mainly the Equinox (pictured). Prospective customers have also had them on test for three-month stints in order to give feedback.