New report identifies cost-effective modular automotive manufacturing solution   

New report focuses on future battery and fuel cell costs for SUVs and vans 

  • Modular electrified platforms for SUVs and vans could allow automotive manufacturers to switch between battery and hydrogen storage systems on the same vehicle production line. 
  • Lithium iron manganese phosphate (LFMP) is expected to be the preferred battery chemistry for large SUVs by 2030. 
  • Hydrogen fuel cell systems expected to reach mass market adoption in vans by 2030, driving economies of scale. 
  • NMC and LFxP battery costs sensitive to input material prices and technology advances. 
  • Hydrogen fuel cell system adoption depends on economies of scale but also sensitive to future availability and cost of refuelling with green hydrogen. 

A newly released insight report by the Technology Trends team at the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) takes an indepth look into the future opportunities around the use of batteries and fuel cells for large premium SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicle) and vans, establishing which technology could be competitive based on installed cost and mileage potential by 2030. It remains open as to whether fuel cells or batteries would be best for more demanding journeys, however, this report offers some clarity over future costs, technology progression and sensitivities. 


The insight report, entitled Batteries and Fuel Cell Future Cost Comparison, analyses the different trajectories of two battery chemistries, high-nickel NMC and LFxP (lithium iron manganese phosphate), and hydrogen fuel cells. Large SUVs and vans were selected for this analysis because they are typically long range and have larger packing freedoms that would allow for a modular battery or hydrogen storage approach. It takes an in-depth look at what the future installed costs of LFxP, NMC and fuel cell systems would be to 2030, within the attributes required for large SUVs and vans. 

Luke Bates, Automotive Trend Strategist at APC, explains:

“There is still ongoing debate around whether a diversified powertrain strategy is the best approach for some manufacturers, as reflected in recent public announcements by BMW, Stellantis, and Jaguar Land Rover. A future scenario is emerging where manufacturers could effectively produce BEVs and FCEVs on the same vehicle production line with a modular electrified platform approach, rather than having to go all-in on just one powertrain investment.

“Research suggests that advanced hydrogen tank systems will be developed and manufactured to fit where the battery normally would in a battery electric vehicle (BEV) skateboard platform, as major battery investments have already been made. There is more space available to package a battery pack or a hydrogen storage system in vans and large SUVs relative to smaller vehicles, which means the potential for modular electrified platforms is higher in these vehicles. 

“While this approach is starting to be commercialised in van platforms such as the Stellantis’ Vivaro model, R&D in advanced hydrogen storage systems will play a vital role in enabling mass market adoption of fuel cell SUVs and vans. The role of hydrogen in vans is clearer due to the range requirements and the added payload benefit from fitting the lighter hydrogen powertrain instead of a large battery. However, fuel cell technology needs to be mass-produced to become cost-competitive and, even then, future hydrogen costs remain uncertain.” 

Challenging today’s preference for high-nickel NMC batteries, the cost model developed by APC shows that LFMP is expected to be the preferred chemistry for large SUVs by 2030 as it has the lowest installed cost and sensitivity to raw material prices while achieving more than 300 miles of range. Luke added: “Our analysis shows that an LFMP battery in 2030 would tick most of the boxes in terms of favourable installed cost, mileage, and low future cost uncertainty. While high-nickel NMC batteries will still be significantly lighter than LFMP ones storing the same amount of energy, their high sensitivity to nickel and lithium chemical prices will be a key consideration for manufacturers operating on lower margins.” 

Dr Hadi Moztarzadeh, Head of Technology Trends at APC summarised: “It is clear that in this vehicle segment, a range of powertrain options will be needed to meet different requirements. Developing a modular electrified platform allows greater adaptability and will future-proof vehicle production for OEMs.” 

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