BERLIN (Reuters) -- Fuel cell technology is becoming cheaper and will be commercially viable for mass use in cars by 2025, Wolf-Henning Scheider, head of Robert Bosch's automotive division, said.
By 2025 fuel cell production will be more industrialized, bringing down costs thanks to greater economies of scale, Henning Scheider told the Automobilwoche conference in Berlin on Friday.
"They are not out of the race. They are a viable alternative to other zero-emission vehicle technologies," Scheider said.
Non-polluting fuel cell cars have failed to gain widespread acceptance because of prohibitive development costs, even though they can run five times longer than electric cars and take far less time to refuel.
Scheider said that fuel cell powertrains are still likely to be twice as expensive to produce as those for electric cars in 2025, but he expects the higher operating range of fuel cell cars to make them a viable alternative.
Daimler, Hyundai, Nissan, Ford, Toyota, Honda and General Motors are all developing fuel cell vehicles.
Toyota and Honda plan to start selling production vehicles next year.
Fuel cell technology combines hydrogen with oxygen in the air to generate electricity. The only emissions are water vapor and heat, but the technology has been held back by high costs and lack of infrastructure.
The first fuel cell cars on the market are expected to be priced at about 56,000 euros ($70,000), but analysts say that does not cover manufacturers' development costs, nor the expense of building filling stations at more than $1 million each.