Yesterday I talked about the near future commercialization of the Class-B Big Rig Tyrano Truck from Vision Industries. Now, I would like to talk about the present day commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell materials handling vehicles such as forklifts and palette trucks.
In fact over the past couple of years I’ve talked about fuel cell forklifts and palette trucks quite a bit as being the first commercial hydrogen vehicles on the market. And this market is so hot right now the Plug Power has placed an order for several thousand more Ballard hydrogen fuel cell stacks to integrate into their materials handling vehicles.
According to Plug Power, “With these tremendous benefits over lead-acid batteries, Plug Power sees a path to profitability by leveraging its GenDrive product line. The company expects to ship between 1,600 and 2,300 GenDrive units during 2011, increasing to 3,400 to 4,400 units for calendar year 2012.
“Plug Power has witnessed sales growth in the material handling market since exclusive dedication was placed on the business in 2010. Plug Power’s impressive customer list includes major material handling players like Sysco, Walmart Canada, FedEx Freight, Central Grocers, Coca-Cola and Kroger.”
Ballard has a slightly different take on the subject, “The deal – structured under an existing equipment supply agreement between the companies that runs through 2014 – calls for Plug Power’s minimum purchase of 3,250 Ballard fuel cell stacks by the end of 2012, with power levels ranging from 1.5 kilowatts to 20.0 kilowatts each. Ballard anticipates that both the scale and cadence of associated product shipments will contribute to increased manufacturing efficiency and reduced fuel cell stack cost … Ballard FCvelocity®-9SSL fuel cell stacks are integrated by Plug Power into its line of GenDrive® systems, which the company has designed to address the complete range of class-1, -2 and -3 forklift trucks for the North American market. Plug Power is also working to develop GenDrive® systems with Ballard fuel cell stacks which can facilitate further reductions in system cost, expand the set of addressable applications and increase geographic reach.”
So, in the hydrogen fuel cell materials handling market we have passed the initial, basic commercialization phase. We are moving now into the “economies of scale” phase which is that of driving down prices by increasing volume of sales and focusing on efficiencies in the methods of production.
By lowering costs and showing the benefits of fuel cell forklifts and palette trucks this market is set to take off over the next 10 years. And there is a study to prove just this point that I will talk about in another blog very soon.