BNEF’s Hilarious Charts Showing Tiny Hydrogen Vehicle Sales

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BloombergNEF (BNEF) has a new report out this month, the Zero-Emission Vehicles Factbook. It was especially prepared for the COP28 summit that is currently underway in the UAE. There’s a lot in the 71-page report and I’m sure we’ll cover more highlights, but as I started digging in, I got to some charts that made me laugh.

BNEF included charts of zero-emission vehicle sales from 2015 through 2023, but remember that includes both full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). If you’ve been watching these markets grow and develop over the past decade, you know that one of these technology choices has done very well and one has not. A decade ago, there was often hot, fierce debate about which technology path would do better. The people arguing the fuel cell vehicle case lost, and here are the charts to prove it:

Did you catch it? The FCV sales are represented by purple. If you can’t see the purple, that’s because it’s barely visible. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles lost. They are a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny portion of zero-emission vehicle sales. We predicted this a decade or so ago, yet there were many hydrogen fans adamantly (and incorrectly) disagreeing with us.

This is not a new move by BNEF. The company has previously produced these charts showing BEV and FCV sales in the same charts. It was funny a few years ago, but it’s hilarious that BNEF has continued to include FCV sales year after year.

Here’s a look at only FCV sales:

What shocked Jo Borras and me was that there were actually 15,000 FCVS sold last year, and nearly 18,000 the year before. Who is buying these? Well, it turns out South Korea is buying a lot — nearly 95%. But the FCV era seems long over, not that it ever got started.

I pulled out a few other charts as well — some good, some not so good. One especially fun chart is this one showing that combustion vehicle sales peaked in 2017. Our own Max Holland wrote about this several years ago, and now the data have come into play proving him right. The fossil fuel vehicle industry hasn’t recovered even close to 2019 levels, and it likely never will.

The problem is: the world’s overall vehicle fleet continues to grow, and ZEVs have not clearly made a dent in vehicle emissions.

EVs are growing fast. Yet much work still needs to be done.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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