China’s plan to transport dirty steel and coal with clean fuel cell trucks: Enlightened planning or a waste of resources?

Ever since the more recent fuel cell wave started in 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government has consistently supported the development of fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) heavy-duty (HD) trucks.

The HD truck market in China is large and growing, and emits a disproportionate amount of carbon. This segment of the country’s automotive market is therefore a target for decarbonisation strategies deriving from the PRC’s ‘Carbon Peak 2030 Carbon Neutral 2060’ and ‘Double Carbon’ clean development goals.

In addition to national level support, regional governments around the country have recently announced promotional schemes for FCEV HD trucks. Most of China’s major auto OEMs have also announced FCEV HD truck development projects. While the country’s hydrogen energy and fuel cell industry looks with optimism on this flurry of developments, many industry veterans remember the initial boom-and-bust cycle experienced by the EV truck industry a decade ago. Will the supply of FCEV HD trucks naturally rise to meet demand or does China run the risk of over-investing resources to build FCEV fleets that sit idle in the sun?

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