Research by technology partner Expleo, reveals 71 per cent of UK automotive leaders believe hydrogen fuelled vehicles are better for the environment than EVs, but uncertainty around infrastructure and green hydrogen is holding investment back.
The research informs a new report by Expleo on the future of hydrogen in automotive, supported by the views of more than 225 leaders across the UK, France and Germany.
‘The Road to Hydrogen Cars – Making the Automotive Sector Cleaner’ suggests many leaders recognise the potential for a green hydrogen solution to contribute toward sustainability goals, but that investment remains weighted towards electric vehicles (36 per cent vs. 28 per cent).
This new insight comes as pressure builds on UK government and industry to meet net zero targets by 2050.
UK leaders cited lower emissions (51 per cent), better range (47 per cent), and less reliance on rare minerals (48 per cent) as the top benefits of hydrogen vehicles, but many appear luke-warm about investing heavily while concerns remain around infrastructure and the production of green hydrogen.
UK respondents called out safety of engineering (43 per cent), complexity of scaling up production (39 per cent) access to service stations (36 per cent) and adequate supplies of sustainably sourced hydrogen (35 per cent) as the main barriers to adoption. However, more than 71 per cent believe their company has the know-how to engineer affordable hydrogen solutions.
The cost of production was seen as less of an issue in the UK as in France (41 per cent) and Germany (47 per cent), with only 32 per cent of UK respondents pointing to this as a primary challenge.
Automotive leaders remain optimistic about the immediate future for hydrogen with almost two-thirds of respondents in the UK believing that the first consumer options will be on the roads within two years (63 per cent). To achieve this, a strong commitment from government will need to be partnered with investment strategy, as seen in France where the report reveals that more automotive companies are investing in hydrogen (36 per cent) than in Germany (27 per cent) and the UK (28 per cent).
Steve McEvoy, vice president of automotive, Expleo, said: “The UK industry is aware of the potential that hydrogen has, but a significant number are cautious about committing to the technology.
“The reality is, without significant investment in the infrastructure needed to store, transport and retail hydrogen alongside a solution to produce green hydrogen, manufacturers will continue to have reservations.
“Despite these challenges, our research shows there is an appetite among parts of the industry for hydrogen. Sustainable fuels are integral to the future of mobility, and if any government is to inspire innovation in the sector, they need to make it clear to leaders that investment in hydrogen technology won’t be in vain.”