Fuel Cell (320-Mile)
Explore key cost and performance metrics for fuel cell electric vehicles, including vehicle cost, fuel economy, levelized cost of driving, and emissions. Caveats for comparing powertrains are listed in the light-duty vehicle Comparison page.
The chart below shows fuel economy, which depends on fuel type. Fuel economy is also used to calculate levelized cost of driving.
The chart below shows vehicle cost, which is used to calculate levelized cost of driving.
Levelized Cost of Driving
This chart shows levelized cost of driving, a metric that combines vehicle cost, fuel economy, and other assumptions, for the selected fuel.
- The levelized cost of driving includes initial costs for the vehicle, fuel costs, and, if applicable, residential charger equipment and installation. It does not include other operations or maintenance costs beyond fuel, or insurance.
- Changes over time are attributable only to projected vehicle cost and performance; the fuel cost and emissions are constant over time based on the selected fuel.
The chart below shows CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions for the fuel well-to-wheels portion of the life cycle for the selected fuel. Emissions depend on fuel type and fuel economy. Emissions associated with vehicle life cycles are not included here.
Note: Changes over time are attributable only to projected vehicle cost and performance; the fuel cost and emissions are constant over time based on the selected fuel.
The data and estimates presented here are based on the following key assumptions:
- The cost and fuel economy trajectories for fuel cell electric vehicles are based on estimates of commercially available technologies in the respective years. Estimates of fuel cell costs and hydrogen storage vessel costs were based on an assumption of low production volume manufacturing today that gradually increases to high production volumemanufacturing by 2050. These costs were adapted from James et al. (James et al., 2018) and Adams, et al. (Adams et al., 2019). All other vehicle component assumptions (e.g. lightweighting and aerodynamic improvements over time) are consistent with Islam et al. (Islam et al., 2020). The ATB Mid trajectory corresponds to the Base performance, Low technology progress case. The ATB Advanced trajectory corresponds to the Base performance, High technology progress case. The ATB Constant trajectory is set to the 2020 values in the Base performance, Low technology case and held constant through 2050.
- The assumed fuel cell and hydrogen storage tank cost trajectories can be found in the definition for fuel cell electric vehicles.
- Fuel cell electric vehicles are currently manufactured at low production volume, and are available for sale or lease in the US for approximately $58,300 or $379-$389/month. Today, the purchase or lease of the vehicle commonly includes access to hydrogen fuel for free for up to 3 years or $13,000-$15,000 (Honda, 2020); (Hyundai, 2020); (Baronas and Achtelik, 2019).
- The Transportation ATB presents estimates for a representative, single size of light-duty vehicle (midsize); we do not account for variations in make, model, and trim or for pricing incentives or geographic heterogeneity that influence prices in the market. As a result, representative values shown here may differ from specific models available on the market.
- Technology advances include changes that may reduce costs or may increase costs while improving performance, which implies that costs do not always decline between less- and more-advanced scenarios.
- The assumptions about fuel economy improvements reflect adoption of lightweighting and engine efficiency technologies consistently across vehicle powertrains for a given trajectory.
- The vehicle range of 320 miles represents the adjusted real-world, on-road estimated driving range. The range is based on 55% city and 45% highway driving, using the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule and Highway Fuel Economy Test drive cycles, respectively. Based on data from the National Household Travel Survey, 95% of U.S. vehicle trips are less than 31 miles (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2019).
- The vehicle range of 320 miles presented in the Transportation ATB reflects a representative vehicle based on near-term, market opportunity and is not meant to define the scope of potential future technologies, which may have higher ranges.
- The baseline fuel pathway used for this powertrain in the levelized cost of driving and emissions estimates is steam methane reforming (current modeled, current volume). Due to the variability of current hydrogen prices, current modeled costs are used as the Baseline fuel instead of current market costs for hydrogen for fuel cell electric vehicles. Additional selected fuel pathways can be displayed by choosing Lowest Cost or Lowest Emissions under Fuel Selection. Additional information about these and other fuels can be found on the Hydrogen page.
- The fuel price and emissions of the selected fuel pathways (e.g., Baseline, Lowest Cost, Lowest Emissions) are associated with a single year. Because we do not provide a time-series trajectory, here we show fuel price at a frozen level for all years so we can offer a range of fuel price values. In the levelized cost of driving and emissions charts, this approach clearly distinguishes effects of fuels from those of vehicle technologies, because fuels remain constant while vehicle technologies change over time.
- The data downloads include additional detail on assumptions and calculations for each metric.
For detailed definitions, see:
The following references are specific to this page; for all references in this ATB, see References.