Strategies to Accelerate the Production and Diffusion of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles: Experiences from California


Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) can play a key role in accelerating the electrification of road transport. Specifically, they offer longer driving ranges and shorter refuelling times relative to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) while reducing needs for space-intensive public charging infrastructure. Although the maturity and market penetration of hydrogen is currently trailing batteries, transport planners in several countries are looking to both technologies to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. Home to the world’s largest on-road fleet of FCEVs, California is one such jurisdiction. Experiences in California provide an ideal opportunity to address a gap in literature whereby barriers to FCEV diffusion are well understood, but knowledge on actual strategies to overcome these has lacked. This study thus examines governance strategies in California to accelerate the production and diffusion of FCEVs, key outcomes, lessons learned and unresolved challenges. Evidence is sourced from 19 expert interviews and an examination of diverse documents. Strategies are examined from four perspectives: (i) supply-side (i.e. stimulation of vehicle production), (ii) infrastructure (i.e. construction of refuelling stations and hydrogen production), (iii) demand-side (i.e. stimulation of vehicle adoption) and (iv) institutional (i.e. cross-cutting measures to facilitate collaboration, innovation and cost-reduction). Findings reveal a comprehensive mix of stringent regulation, market and consumer incentives, and public–private collaboration. However, significant challenges remain for spurring the development of fuel cell transport in line with initial ambitions. Highlighting these provides important cues for public policy to accelerate the deployment of FCEVs and hydrogen in California and elsewhere.

Funding source: This study was supported by Kakenhi funds (grant number 18H00919) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Japan

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