What happened

Fuel-cell stocks were higher today, with Plug Power (PLUG -13.87%), Bloom Energy (BE -3.21%), and FuelCell Energy (FCEL -10.05%) gaining 3.2%, 5.6%, and 11.4%, respectively as of 1 p.m. EDT.

With more and more carmakers investing in hydrogen fuel-cell technology, investors in fuel-cell stocks are getting increasingly upbeat about the prospects.

So what

A report from Reuters this morning revealed how some of the auto giants from across the world are looking beyond battery-electric vehicles and investing in hydrogen, which appears to be pumping interest in hydrogen fuel-cell stocks.

A person looking at a rising stock price chart on a smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

According to Reuters, BMW (BMWYY -1.91%) (BAMXF -0.82%) (BAMXF -0.82%) is planning a mass-market hydrogen model by 2030 and has built a hydrogen car prototype based on its X5 SUV. BMW Vice President Jurgen Guldner also said that the company intends to build a "test fleet" of nearly 100 cars by 2022.

Likewise, Volkswagen's (VWAGY -2.12%) Audi brand told Reuters it has already built some prototypes and has set up a team of more than 100 to research hydrogen fuel-cell technology for the entire Volkswagen group.

This update from Volkswagen in particular caught my attention as barely months ago, Volkswagen's CEO Herbert Diess publicly rebuffed the idea of hydrogen cars when he tweeted that science does not support the use of hydrogen in cars.

It appears Volkswagen doesn't want to be left out of the hydrogen game anymore, now that more players are stepping on the gas. Just earlier this month, Hyundai Motor Group (HYMTF -0.18%) announced ambitious hydrogen plans including electrifying all its commercial vehicles on hydrogen fuel cells by 2028 and testing the technology's use in drones and supercars.

These fresh updates from BMW and Volkswagen clearly prove that interest in hydrogen fuel-cell technology has now gone well beyond just trucks to passenger cars, and the news is testimony to the viability of the technology in securing a greener future. Importantly, more research and investments into the industry should bring down costs over time and make fuel-cell technology even more attractive. That's what investors in leading fuel-cell stocks like Plug Power, Bloom Energy, and FuelCell Energy want to see, even as these companies continue to expand. For example, Plug Power just announced it's building the largest hydrogen facility on the West Coast.

FCEL Chart

FCEL data by YCharts

Now what

Despite all the attention fuel cells are getting, these fuel-cell stocks have been crazily volatile in the past year or so. That's because these growth stocks weren't delivering as expected until recently, when both Plug Power and Bloom Energy reported record numbers in their respective second quarters and FuelCell Energy surprised the market with unexpectedly strong growth in its Q3 top line last week. If these companies can continue growing just as rapidly, news of more investments in the hydrogen industry like what we heard today would act as a perfect booster for these fuel-cell stocks.