Today's gasoline-powered vehicles carry such a price advantage over the alternatives it's not even funny. Things are changing, though, and George Hansen, director in charge of fuel-cell commercialization at General Motors Asia Pacific (Japan) Ltd., believes that fuel cell vehicles will be cost competitive with equivalent hybrids and range-extended autos by, wait for it, 2025. Hansen, speaking to Autocar, suggests that significant cost reductions will surface in the coming years and said the drop in price can be attributed to advancements in materials and volume production that he anticipates will drive down manufacturing expenses for fuel cell vehicles.
Today, platinum is one of the biggest cost contributors in fuel cell vehicles. Early prototype vehicles, such as the hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Equinox, carry as much as 80 grams of the precious, and extremely costly, metal. Hansen predicts that by 2025, that number will be reduced to a mere two grams – less than what you'd expect to find in most modern-day catalytic converters. Today, GM's fifth-generation fuel cell stack utilizes 30 grams of platinum, so substantial reductions still lie ahead.