Platinum producing companies are now betting that fuel cell vehicle usage will lift demand for the precious metal, infusing a new lease of life in the market’s dying price levels.
But the players in the sector should take one note – the green vehicles, including fuel cells, electric s and hybrids have not managed to command a large portion of the worldwide automotive market. Instead, the small share is today ruled almost unanimously by battery-operated electric and hybrid vehicles. Today, the world’s three leading platinum producers, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum and Lonmin are also involved in fuel cell technology related projects – with the platinum used as a catalyst to combine hydrogen and oxygen to deliver electrical power. And analysts, together with industry experts are largely doubting fuel cell vehicles will be a match anytime soon for the battery-operated electrics – mainly because battery recharging today is cheaper and more widespread than hydrogen refueling stations. “If fuel cells are not adopted, we may have no auto market for platinum by 2050,” comments Amplats Chief Executive Chris Griffith.
If the automotive industry becomes dominated by battery electrics, the sector’s demand for platinum would drop to 2.5 million ounces in 2050 from 3.4 million ounces today. But if it’s the other way around, and fuel cells emerge on top, then platinum usage is expected to jump to 6.6 million ounces in 2050. According to data from the International Council of Clean Transportation, back in 2013 across the European Union, hybrid an battery electrics accounted for around 1.8 percent of all new car deliveries, twice more than in the previous two years. Meanwhile, fuel cell vehicles is only estimated to reach 0.015 percent of global light vehicle production by 2025.