The globe’s largest producer of platinum, Anglo American Platinum Ltd., warns that automakers making fuel cell cars are in danger of being pushed out of the infant electric market if they don’t step up their game.
The metal is a crucial component in the technology, with the burgeoning electric-car market slowly – but certainly – developing to become a viable alternative to the traditional internal combustion engine. “This is an industry at an inflection point,” commented Andrew Hinkly, chief of marketing at the company also known as Amplats. “If fuel cells do not compete and take a sizable share of that electric-vehicle lineup, then clearly they’ll be replaced by batteries or smaller internal-combustion engines.” The victory of one technology over the other in the automaker battle might become key to the success or demise of platinum producers as well, with the latter watching as the prices of the precious metal have gone down close to 20 percent in just 12 months. The company believes that wider adoption of fuel cell technology – which uses the metal – could turn around the fortunes for Amplats, which has seen a crash in earnings of 46 percent in 2014.
Analysts and industry experts believe that the clean automotive sector will have to settle either for fuel cell or battery operated electrics, as the market demand will not have the power to support both – given the high costs refueling and charging stations, as well as development of the technology. So far, Hyundai and Toyota already have commercially available fuel cell vehicles, with Honda to follow. On the other side, more automakers, such as Tesla, Renault or Nissan have invested heavily into battery-operated electrics.