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South Korea Is the World’s First Country With Over 10,000 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

2020 is very special, but for the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle industry, its prosperity and attention are constantly increasing. Due to the impact of the epidemic, the focus of industry growth has gradually shifted from Europe and the United States to Asia represented by China, Japan and South Korea.

  1. More than 500 hydrogen refueling stations in operation in the world, the most in Japan

According to incomplete statistics from the Orange Society Research Institute, in 2020, the world’s major economies have built 527 hydrogen refueling stations and 504 are in operation. Among these operating stations, the EU topped the list with 179 seats, followed by Japan with 137 seats, and China ranked third with 101 seats more than Germany’s 89 seats. Due to the impact of the epidemic, the US has reduced the number of hydrogen refueling stations in operation from 48 in 2019 to 42 in 2020. South Korea has therefore caught up and became the country with the fourth most operating hydrogen refueling stations.

From the perspective of countries, China, Japan and South Korea added 49, 23, and 13 hydrogen refueling stations in operation, respectively. Germany, the representative country of the EU, achieved a slight increase, while the US experienced negative growth. There is no doubt that Asia, represented by China, Japan and South Korea will become the leading force in promoting hydrogen refueling infrastructure construction in 2020.

  1. Global hydrogen fuel cell vehicles exceeds 30,000, with South Korea ranking first with 10,000 units

By the end of 2020, the number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in China, the US, Japan and South Korea reached 30,185. Among them, South Korea, driven by the policy of high subsidies, sold more than 5,000 vehicles in 2020, becoming the first country with a hydrogen vehicle ownership level of 10,000. Affected by policies in China, the new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle sales in 2020 was 1,177, less than half of 2019. By 2020, the number of hydrogen vehicles totaled 7,352. The US added 937 new vehicles, a decrease of about 55% from 2019, with a total number of 8,931. Japan still maintained steady growth. In 2020, 761 new vehicles were added and 3902 were promoted in total. However, the delay of the Tokyo Olympics also affected the promotion of hydrogen vehicles.

  1. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles served by a single-seater hydrogen refueling station exceeded 200

Regardless of the size of hydrogen refueling stations and the types of vehicles to be promoted, from the perspective of hydrogen refueling infrastructure and the number of hydrogen vehicles, the number of hydrogen vehicles served by a single station has exceeded 200. The United States was witnessing steady growth. The number of vehicles served by single-seater hydrogen refueling stations has increased from 141 in 2018 to 190 in 2020. South Korea increased from 52 in 2018 to 222 in 2020, with a compound growth rate of 106%. Japan was relatively stable, maintaining around 30 vehicles. As the growth rate of hydrogen vehicle sales in China was not as fast as that of hydrogen refueling stations, the number of hydrogen vehicles served by a single station has dropped from 115 in 2018 to 73 in 2020. It needs to be pointed out that currently the United States, Japan, and South Korea are mainly promoting hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles while China is focusing on hydrogen fuel cell commercial vehicles.

In terms of the number of operating hydrogen refueling stations and hydrogen vehicles, the growth rate of hydrogen refueling stations in China, the US, Japan and South Korea in 2020 was 33.60%, and that of hydrogen vehicle ownership was 34.32%. The overall station growth rate was relatively matched. South Korea and Japan were the first countries to deploy hydrogen fuel cell technology. But in recent years South Korea has been able to catch up with Japan. The US was trapped by the epidemic and continued to lead in hydrogen energy technology research and development, but its industrialization has slowed down. With 7352 vehicles promoted, the construction of hydrogen refueling stations in China was also in a leading position compared with other countries. These both created a good foundation for the promotion and application of hydrogen vehicles in China.

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