Highly Unlikely that Micro Fuel Cell Products Will Be Delivered in 2004, Says ABI

For micro fuel cells to gain wide scale use and acceptance, regulatory approvals must be granted for final product designs for early niche markets, and then the products for these early niche markets must be deliverable through a small, established distribution network.

Oyster Bay, NY - September 10, 2003


For micro fuel cells to gain wide scale use and acceptance, regulatory approvals must be granted for final product designs for early niche markets, and then the products for these early niche markets must be deliverable through a small, established distribution network. It is difficult, however, to ascertain the true status of companies' R&D progress in the field. Although micro fuel cells are close to being commercialized, technology research firm ABI advises that certain issues need to be resolved first before widespread use can occur.

"As long as technical issues such as water management, volumetric energy density, and complete packaging exist, it would be challenging for micro fuel cell companies to deliver their products in 2004," says Atakan Ozbek, ABI's Director of Energy Research.

According to public announcements, two Japanese companies, Toshiba and NEC, will introduce micro fuel cells in 2004; Japanese wireless giant DoCoMo also made statements announcing that it will roll out micro fuel cells in its 3G handsets in 2004. "I certainly believe that it can be achieved by the end of 2004; however, we have not seen any major developments in recent months by certain bellwether companies yet," continues Mr. Ozbek. "In addition, the essential framework of codes and standards from the regulatory landscape is also largely incomplete."

ABI's final update on the micro fuel cell market expects the first commercial micro fuel cell products in laptops and in niche markets to appear in the 2004-2005 time span, with 5,000 units. ABI expects global shipments to reach 200 million units in 2011.


ABI's "Micro Fuel Cell End User Markets" study assesses only high-end product segments: wireless handsets, laptops, digital cameras, PDAs, and certain niche applications. According to the report, micro fuel cells success will be realized more realistically in the high end with products that have ample space, such as laptops, and in specific niche markets, such as industrial mobile computing.

There is a misconception that needs to be corrected about the improvements in battery technology, which presume to make new electronic products more practical. It is quite the reverse, actually, wherein progress in the electronics fields, from advanced microprocessor chips to added features such as multimedia capabilities, has forced battery technology to catch up with surging power demand of these products -- from laptops to digital cameras.

ABI's micro fuel cell study assesses the last technical hurdles ahead of commercial distribution of MFCs, along with critical elements of regulatory and business issues in major regions for North America, Western Europe and Japan. The study assesses the comparative market potential of important end-use markets, and provides growth projections by market and by region through 2011.

ABI is a N.Y.-based technology market research firm founded in 1990. ABI publishes market research and technology intelligence on the wireless, automotive, electronics, networking and energy industries. Details can be found on the web at abiresearch.com or by calling 516-624-3113.

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