sparky wrote:GRA, I do appreciate keeping you this thread updated since I'm interested in this topic.
It's mid 2017. GM has produced a damn fine, long range EV at a FCV beating price. Tesla has completed production of its first Model 3 (of 100k in the next 12 months?).
It's seems Mirai, and Clarity and the others just don't know they're dead yet. I know one person who has a FCV (Clarity). He loves it mostly because Honda has made it "free" to him with a cheap lease and free H2. Also, there's a First Element station near his house.
Most of the news seems to be gravitating towards other FCV applications. There's no great pull for FCVs. Seems BEVs have won.
Do you disagree?
Yes, I disagree. It remains way too early to say, and as long as BEVs and FCEVs remain dependent on subsidies for sales (see that thread), we simply won't know what their real commercial viability is. Bolt sales have been disappointing, and I think the reason is that people are now evaluating more realistically how they're going to use the cars now that the initial early adopter excitement has faded, what their real range requirements are, and how much that's worth to them.
The question for Tesla is can they produce the Model 3 at a profit, does the car have sales legs once the backlog is worked through, and can they avoid the QC problems that plagued the S and X on rollout? Given the way the market is going, I think the Model Y CUV would be a much more viable commercial prospect, but Tesla has to get past the Model 3 first.
I believe putting the Model Y on its own platform instead of doing what everyone else does and basing it on an existing one (the Model 3) will prove a costly mistake. So, while Tesla certainly has a better shot at making BEVs mainstream than anyone else at this time, thanks to both their cachet and the SC network, at least in the U.S. the VW settlement and other actions are likely to start reducing the latter advantage, and Tesla will soon be facing real competition for the first time in their high-end, profitable cars, so we'll have to wait and see.
FCEVs are slowly picking up steam, as the fueling infrastructure continues to be built up here and (in some cases more rapidly) other countries. They're still too expensive, the available models lack compelling performance or looks which has (along with the SC network) been the main driver of Tesla sales, and it takes a buyer who's mainly interested in the tech with an adequate income and convenient fueling to be a reasonable fit, which inevitably will limit their potential sales even if production constraints don't. Sales rate is roughly double compared to last year in California, now that two reasonably viable competitors are available (with the 3rd's leases being essentially too expensive, and lacking in range given the sparse refueling infrastructure, even though it's a CUV) along with more stations, but remain limited. Station roll-out here has fallen well behind schedule which hasn't helped, but is considerably faster in Germany and one or two other countries.
So, my take is that we'll have to wait another 3-5 years before we can make better predictions of whether one or both will succeed in the market. I've always expected that both techs would find niches, with the main uncertainty being the relative size of each. There are so many variables, especially involving the possible effects of car-sharing, autonomy and urban (re-)design, that expecting to accurately predict the ultimate result seems futile to me for now.
As an aside, although the Mirai has sold 4 or 5 times as many cars as the Clarity has so far in California (owing to it entering the market a year earlier), I see Claritys much more often. I have no idea why.