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Simulating the Adoption of Fuel Cell Vehicles


  • Malte Schwoon


Supply security and environmental concerns associated with oil call for an introduction of hydrogen as a transport fuel. To date, scenario studies of infrastructure build up and sales of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are driven by cost estimates and technological feasibility assumptions, indicating that there is a "chicken and egg problem": Car producers do not offer FCVs as long as there are no hydrogen filling stations, and infrastructure will not be set up unless there is a significant number of FCVs on the road. This diffusion barrier is often used as an argument for a major (public) infrastructure program, neglecting that the automobile market is highly competitive and car producers, consumers, and filling station operators form an interdependent dynamic system, where taxes influence technology choice. In this paper, an agent-based model is used that captures the main interdependencies to simulate possible diffusion paths of FCVs. The results suggest that a tax on conventional cars can successfully promote diffusion even without a major infrastructure program. However, consumers and individual producers are affected differently by the tax, indicating that differently strong resistance towards such a policy can be anticipated. Moreover, there is evidence that some producers might benefit from cooperation with filling station operators to generate a faster build up of infrastructure.

Suggested Citation

  • Malte Schwoon, 2005. "Simulating the Adoption of Fuel Cell Vehicles," Working Papers FNU-59, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Feb 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:59

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    More about this item


    Diffusion Process; Agent Based Modeling; Hydrogen Economy; Alternative Fuel Vehicles;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory

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