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article imageMost auto executives see fuel cells not batteries for future EVs

By Ken Hanly     Jan 14, 2018 in Technology
A survey by giant auditor KPMG finds that though there is a growing electric vehicle (EV) market in China and also increasing global pollution limits for autos run on fossil fuels, a majority of global auto executives take a dim view of battery-run EVs.
Most senior executives see battery-run EV's (BEVs) as likely to be superseded by fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs)
KPMG stands for Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler. The survey by KPMG,a large professional service company that employs about 189,000 people, shows that 62 percent of senior auto executives think that eventually EV's will be leapfrogged by fuel-cell vehicles. The executives feel that the challenges of building an adequate infrastructure of both lower-rate and DC fast-charging infrastructure for long-distance travel will allow fuel-cell vehicles to eventually dominate over battery-run EVs.
The survey was based on data collected from 953 senior executives.
Fuel Cell run EV's (FCEVs)
The executives are not saying that vehicles now run by fossil fuels will not eventually be replaced by EVs but that EVs run by batteries will lose out to EVs run by fuel cells.
A FCEV uses a fuel cell rather than a battery to create electricity. The cells generally use oxygen from the air as well as hydrogen to generate the electricity that powers the motor. While this avoids the problem of having an extensive charging infrastructure the vehicles still need stations where they can obtain hydrogen fuel and the infrastructure for that needs to be created.
As of now there are only 36 public hydrogen fueling stations for autos available in the U.S. Some critics doubt that hydrogen will ever be efficient or cost-effective for automobiles compared to other zero emission technologies. However auto execs on the whole appear to be optimistic about the technology.
As a recent Digital Journal article reports at least one auto maker Hyundai is introducing a new fuel-cell powered electric vehicle betting on a promising future for the technology.
Luxury car maker Porsche however will soon be selling six separate plug-in hybrid models.
Increase in EVs market share will be driven more by regulation in the future
The KPMG survey includes a chart showing the increase in EV's over the next several years. In 2018 there are expected to be about 96 million vehicles worldwide with only 5 percent being EVs.
By 2023 the chart shows 110 million vehicles globally, and the EV market share is projected to be up to 37 percent. However, it is estimated that only seven percent of this is from market demand while up to 30 percent comes from regulations.
Fifty percent of executives believe that as the years pass towards 2025 battery-operated EV's will be a key trend because the regulatory environment will dictate this. In spite of the increase in the share of the market by EV vehicles 76 percent of the executives thought that the internal combustion engines will continue for many years as the dominant type of drive train.
At the same time, 78 percent saw the breakthrough technology in EVs not to be new battery technology but the development of the hydrogen fuel cell-powered EV (FCEV). The report says: "The faith in FCEVs can be explained by the hope that FCEVs will solve the recharging and infrastructure issue BEVs face today." However, FCEVs have their own problems in that they need an infrastructure of stations providing hydrogen fuel. There are also costs in transporting hydrogen to the stations.
China to stop production of fossil fuel powered vehicles
China is launching a campaign to increase the percentage of its vehicles that have zero emissions. It is now the largest global market for EVs.
Last September, the deputy interior minister, Xin Guobin, announced that China is doing research to reach a timetable for stopping production of traditional internal combustion style vehicles. This will certainly help relieve the pollution problems faced by many Chinese cities.
Several countries have already bans on fossil fuel powered vehicles. Norway plans to ban them by 2025. The UK, France, and India have also announced bans.
More about Auto executives, Kpmg, Fuel cells, evs