Only 263 fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) were registered in Germany — Europe’s largest market for hydrogen cars — throughout 2023, down nearly 70% from the 835 registered in 2022, according to figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA).

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This brings the number of passenger FCEVs currently on German roads up to 2,364, according to the National Organisation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW) — compared to more than 1.4 million battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).

The KBA counted 524,219 BEVs registered in 2023 alone, steadily growing from 470,559 the year before.

German taxpayer’s association Bund der Steuerzahler (BdSt) in September called for an end to subsidies on FCEVs and hydrogen refuelling stations, estimating that at least €450m ($493m) — excluding EU funding — had been spent since 2007, which it described as “absurd” and “pointless”.

That translates to more than €190,000 of subsidies per fuel-cell car. Only a handful of hydrogen-powered trucks are believed to be running on German roads, but the KBA has not released figures on this.

Hydrogen passenger cars have failed to take off around the world since the introduction of the Toyota Mirai in late 2014, with UK-based analyst IDTechEx recently attributing this to the “lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, the cost of hydrogen, and the upfront cost of the vehicles”.

Germany currently imports all of its fuel-cell cars, with only two models — the Mirai and Hyundai’s Nexo — sold in the country.

Munich-headquartered BMW launched a 100-vehicle pilot fleet for its hydrogen-powered iX5 in February last year, although no timeline has yet been disclosed on when the car will be available for sale to the public.