China expects to put 14,600 fuel cell vehicles on the road by end of 2020

That fleet will be larger than last year’s global sales outside of China.

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China will have 11,600 commercial fuel cell vehicles and 3,000 passenger vehicles on its roads by 2020, according to Liu Jinzhou, vice director of the new energy vehicle and fiscal policy research lab of the state-owned China Automotive Technology and Research Center Co Ltd, as reported by Chinese media outlet Cailianshe.

The combined number of 14,600 units is higher than global fuel cell vehicle sales outside of China in 2018, which added up to 11,149 units, Liu added. He did not mention how many fuel cell vehicles were sold in China last year alone, but said that 3,447 have been shipped in the country since they first became available.

Liu made these remarks at a hydrogen industry event held in Beijing on Friday, based on projections for fuel cell vehicle promotion plans in different cities in China.

Data released one week earlier by China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers shows that 545 fuel cell vehicles were sold in the first five months of this year, representing a 479.8% annual increase. That was the first time data on fuel cell vehicle adoption in China was disclosed by the association. In particular, 315 units were sold in May.

In March, the premier of China’s State Council, Li Keqiang, stated in his work report that boosting the construction of hydrogen refueling facilities at a national scale is key to the country’s development. It was the first time for the fuel cell vehicle industry to be recognized at a national level in the country.

A Shanghai official revealed earlier this month that the city plans to build 510 hydrogen refueling stations by 2020, after SAIC Motor, one of China’s leading automakers, opened “the world’s largest” hydrogen refueling station in the city last week.

Wan Gang, a former science and technology minister of China, said in an interview with Bloomberg that hydrogen fuel cell cars are the future for the country’s auto sector. He is called the father of China’s electric car movement and convinced the country’s leaders two decades ago to shift to vehicle electrification, said Bloomberg.