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Report: Market for fuel cell vehicles to take off by 2020

Increase in hydrogen gas stations is contributing to expected growth of fuel cell vehicle market within decade, according to Pike Research.

Transit buses, like Ecotality's hydrogen fuel cell Hydratus bus, are predicted to become the largest market for fuel cell vehicles. Ecotality

Fuel cell vehicles will overcome obstacles and the market will start to see growth within 10 years, according to a report released Wednesday by Pike Research.

The research analyst asserts in its report "Fuel Cell Vehicles" that after years of development, fuel cell vehicles may be "on the verge of commercialization by mid-decade."

The U.S. is predicted to be the largest fuel cell vehicle (FCV) market with about 134,000 vehicles sold annually, followed by China (about 129,000 FCVs), and Germany (about 127,000 FCVs).

A total of about 670,000 fuel cell light vehicles are predicted to be sold annually around the world by 2020.

Transit buses are expected to lead the market with Pike Research forecasting "sales growing at a compound annual growth rate of 31.7 percent by 2015." 

Pike Research reasons that over the next 10 years the technology surrounding alternative fuel vehicles will become standardized, more hydrogen refueling stations will become available, and fuel cells themselves will become less expensive. This confluence of events which is predicted to happen within the next 10 years, should lead to an increased adoption, according to Pike Research.

"Fuel cell development for cars and trucks remains largely noncompetitive, and the emergence of standards for components such as refueling nozzles, tank specifications, and pressure lines should help drive the technology toward wider adoption," Pike said in its report.

It makes sense that transit buses would be earmarked as a leading market for fuel cell vehicles.

Several municipalities, including Las Vegas as far back as 2007, have taken advantage of Department of Energy grants and corporate sponsorship to launch pilot programs for hydrogen fuel cell transit buses. Many have resulted in permanently adding fuel cell vehicles to public transportation fleets or municipal fleets. Even small-town America is getting in on partnerships to offer their community hydrogen fueling stations.