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Markets for Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Units in Vehicles: A Preliminary Assessment


Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Lutsey, Nicholas P., Christie-Joy Brodrick, Daniel Sperling, Harry A. Dwyer (2002) Markets for Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Units in Vehicles: A Preliminary Assessment. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RP-02-44

In 1997-98, most of the major automotive companies announced plans to sell 100,000 or more
fuel cell vehicles each by 2005. Those plans are being stymied by the daunting challenge of
developing and commercializing an entirely new propulsion system, possibly operating on a new
fuel. A new approach is needed that targets market niches where the advantages of fuel cells can
be exploited and their disadvantages downplayed. This paper explores the potential use of fuel
cells in auxiliary power units (APUs) on-board various types of cars and trucks – in luxury
passenger vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, contractor trucks, specialized utility trucks,
recreational vehicles, refrigerated trucks, and line-haul heavy-duty trucks. We analyze power
requirements, volume and weight targets, costs, market sizes, and potential benefits for several
fuel cell technologies and fuels. The attributes of market applications are matched with fuel cell
attributes to assess the market potential of fuel cell APUs. Although data are insufficient and
more analysis is needed, we find that several market applications could play key roles in
introducing fuel cell technologies to the transportation sector.