Development and demonstration of fuel cell vehicles and supporting infrastructure in China

  • Robert K. Dixon
  • Xi Wang
  • Michael Q. Wang
  • Ju Wang
  • Zhihong Zhang
Original Article


The demand for urban transportation in China, including cars, motorbikes, buses, and trains, is growing substantially. China’s transportation fleet is projected to expand from 16 to 94 million vehicles between 2000 and 2020, with liquid and electricity transport fuel demand growing from about 5 Quadrillion British Thermal Units (Quads) to over 20 Quads in 2035. In response to energy security, economic growth and environmental protection needs, Chinese government agencies, academia and the private sector have organized their programs and investments to advance development and demonstration of sustainable alternative transportation systems. This analysis surveys historic development of fuel cell vehicle (FCV) including fuel cell buses (FCB) technology in China, summarizes recent efforts to scale-up FCV development and associated infrastructure in major Chinese cities, and briefly addresses future directions in Chinese fuel cell and hydrogen energy technology development. Since the late 1990’s, Chinese universities, government institutions and the private sector have implemented research, development, demonstration and deployment programs for electric (EV), fuel cell (FCV), and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). These efforts have advanced the feasibility of FCVs to be a part of sustainable urban transportation system, including technical performance, infrastructure, and customer acceptance. Three generations of FCVs, START I, START II and START III have been developed, demonstrated and deployed. Similarly, several generations of FCBs have been developed and demonstrated. Collectively, these efforts have demonstrated and deployed over 1,000 FCBs and FCVs in several Chinese cities. Large-scale, intensive-use FCV and FCB demonstration trials, including those during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Exposition (EXPO), have been successfully built and operated. Infrastructure, such as hydrogen production facilities, fuelling stations, and maintenance stations have been constructed and operated to support the fleets of FCBs and FCVs. Experiences learned from these FCV research, development, and demonstration activities are the foundation for scaling up infrastructure and fleet trials in a growing number of cities in eastern and western China. An aggressive research and development vision and 2020 technology performance targets provide a foundation for the next generation of EVs, FCVs and HEVs, and, options for China’s efforts to develop a portfolio of sustainable transportation systems.


Fuel cell bus Fuel cell vehicle Hydrogen Infrastructure 2008 Beijing Olympics 2010 Shanghai Exposition 



J. Brinch, R. Scheer and H. Xu contributed to prior drafts of this paper.


This analysis and presentation does not represent the technical or policy views of the Global Environment Facility, its agencies or its members.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert K. Dixon
    • 1
  • Xi Wang
    • 2
  • Michael Q. Wang
    • 3
  • Ju Wang
    • 4
  • Zhihong Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Global Environment FacilityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  3. 3.Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National LaboratoryArgonneUSA
  4. 4.China Automotive Technology and Research CenterBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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