Browse Publications Technical Papers 2003-01-0809

Cost Competitiveness of Fuel Cell Vehicles Through Novel Hybridization Approaches 2003-01-0809

A combination of fuel cells with internal combustion engines (FC/ICE hybrids) for light duty vehicle propulsion has the potential to offer significant benefits over conventional battery electric hybrid architectures. Specifically, compared to conventional battery / ICE hybrids the FC/ICE hybrid concept may offer improvements in vehicle utility, performance, and emissions. Furthermore, the FC/ICE hybrid can be implemented at a substantially lower cost than that associated with full fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).
Numerous studies have indicated significant emission and energy efficiency benefits from FCVs, especially those based on proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). However, recent more detailed studies indicate that achieving competitiveness with IC engine-based powertrains, especially with respect to cost, would require significant additional improvements in fundamental PEMFC technology. The power density of IC engine powertrains, especially high-powered ones, also would be hard to match for full fuel cell powertrains.
Still, the promise of energy efficiency and emissions benefits that fuel cells offer may be difficult to match with advanced engine technology, especially in city traffic. Thus, we believe it is time to consider integrating fuel cells with engines, rather than hybridizing either with batteries. In fact, recent TIAX analysis suggests that much of the emissions and efficiency benefits promised by “conventional” FCVs could be achieved with FC/ICE hybrids, at a much lower cost and technical risk.
Preliminary analysis conducted by TIAX indicate that such novel FC/ICE hybrids could cut fuel consumption of high-end light-duty vehicles such as full-size SUVs in half, while potentially providing significant emissions benefits as well. The cost for achieving this is estimated at about $4,100 to the manufactured vehicle cost.


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