One of the things missing from the hydrogen convergence movement has been the emergence of new technology companies. Generally speaking, disruptive movements are characterized by massive amounts of creative destruction perpetrated by new players on incumbent companies. Horizon Fuel Cell is one of the most promising young companies that fits neatly into the game changer mold.
Horizon has concentrated on non-mission critical markets like toys to hone its manufacturing chops. Instead of attempting to curry favor with the major original equipment manufacturers, Horizon has dedicated its resources to improving its ability to mass produce hydrogen fuel cells. This strategy seems reminiscent of the strategy that Honda took through the dirt bike market into automobile manufacturing.
So what does this mean for economic developers? If you and your peers acknowledge Horizon’s disruptive strategies, you may want to also consider that Horizon may be taking another page out of the disruptive innovation playbook. Horizon may choose to become the replacement fuel cell manufacturer of choice. And, this could lead to a “grey market” in hydrogen fuel cells and a cottage industry in hydrogen fuel cell retrofits.
Third party parts production is widely seen as the reason that the personal computer (PC) market took off so rapidly. No established company has all of the resources necessary to bring hydrogen convergence to every community in the United States in a reasonable timeframe. New companies are needed that can make a meal on lower cost structures and Horizon may be only the first to step up to the plate.