Pike Research, 2.8 Million Fuel Cell Vehicles, and Climate Change

Posted: March 1st, 2010 by Militant Libertarian

from EVMeme

I’m about to do something that will be considered sacrilege to some, greatly informative to others, and hilarious to a few.  It’s those latter that I’m aiming for.  The rest of you feel free to leave me hateful comments and fruitlessly try to change the mind of a red-headed person.  I dare you.

What I’m about to do is make fun of Al Gore and climate science all in one swoop while making references to hydrogen fuel-cell (HFC) cars.  I’m an equal opportunity religion basher.  I’ll attach climate change, Al Gore, HFCs, or anything else.  I’m not skeered.

Pike Research, which is one of those companies that makes predictions of things based on who-the-hell-knows-what in order to make guesses as to what will happen in future market events.  Sort of like Al Gore.  Except Pike, instead of making a hockey stick graph about planet temperatures due to evil SUV-driving rednecks, made one involving the anticipated future sales of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (of all kinds).  The prediction?

2.8 million vehicles powered by fuel cells by 2020.  That’s ten years from now.  They’re calling it their “2020 Report.”

This report got widely distributed online.  Green Car Congress picked it up (in the middle of a day of reporting a lot of non-car, climate issues too, of course), as did Auto Blog Green.

Of course, like Kevin over at HydrogenCarsNow, I really like fuel cells and think they will have a major role in our upcoming new transportation infrastructure.  I cover a fair number of HFC events over at GreenBigTruck, in fact.  Mostly because HFCs seem to be well-suited to commercial transportation.

Here’s my problem with Pike’s report: there are pitifully few hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on the road right now and most automakers who have them are aiming for 2015 as their target for (low volume) mass production.  Honda has something like 750 or so FCX Clarity cars on the road worldwide, Toyota has only a small percentage of that, and so forth.  In fact, most of the fuel cell vehicles on the road are commercial medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.  Daimler AG leads the way there.  In all, I’d be surprised if there are more than a couple of thousand HFC vehicles on the road right now around the globe.

So their prediction that this will increase ten-fold to 2.8 million in only a decade?  Seems a little ridiculous.

Luckily, their report has a convenient blame clause: government.  I love blaming government for everything just as much as the next guy (at least, the next guy who’s an American; not sure about the rest of you), but this seems a little misplaced.

But hey, that kind of escape clause works for the IPCC, Al Gore, and the rest of them, so why not Pike?  After all, they appear to be using the same methodology throughout:

  1. Make a bunch of hokey predictions based on computer modeling of (mostly valid) data,
  2. Conveniently create a simple, but shocking graph to illustrate your findings,
  3. Publish it with a lot of scientific language that no one will read, while including your core editorializing in the “summary” report,
  4. Wait for the headlines to pour in, then apply for some grants for further research,
  5. Be sure that your predictions are far enough in the future that they will either be forgotten by the time we actually get there or leave a cop-out scapegoat in the fine print so you can blame it on them when they don’t pan out.



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