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China to reduce tariffs on imported fuel cell-related parts

China will lower tariffs on fuel cell-related components imported to the country in 2021, which will be a boon to the development of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).

In 2021, the tariff levied on the imported fuel cell-related compressors, circulating pump and carbon electrode slice is set to be rated at 5%, 2% and 5%, falling from the most-favored-nation tariffs of 7%, 7% and 10%, according to a document the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council issued earlier this month.

The authority said it will put levies on a total of 883 imported items at temporary rates lower than the corresponding most-favored-nation tariff rates in 2021, in a bid to coordinate domestic and overseas market resources and improve the supply quality.

China resolves to boost the development of the technological and industrial chains of FCVs, and move faster on developing technical facilities of hydrogen production, storage and application, according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office about a week ago.

A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of a fuel (often hydrogen) and an oxidizing agent (often oxygen) into electricity through a pair of redox reactions. It consists of membrane electrode assemblies, bipolar plates and fuel cell stack.

Fuel cells are classified based on their operating temperature, electrolyte and the corresponding conductive ions. They are primarily split into five types, namely AFC (alkaline fuel cell), MCFC (molten carbonate fuel cell), PAFC (phosphoric acid fuel cell), SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) and PEMFC (proton-exchange membrane fuel cell). Of those, PEMFC is being used in new energy vehicles (NEVs) due to its high power density and power-to-weight ratio.

For the year of 2015 to 2019, China's annual fuel cell vehicle (FCV) sales stood at 10, 629, 1275, 1,527 and 2,737 units respectively, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

The CAAM's data show that FCV production and sales volumes for the first eleven months plunged 34.4% and 29.1% year on year to 935 units and 948 units respectively. The slump mainly stemmed from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese domestic automakers like Dongfeng Fengshen, Changan Auto, GAC Aion and Geely Auto have already rolled out fuel cell passenger vehicle models.