Canadian hydrogen fuel cell pioneer Ballard Power Systems Inc. has hung on for four decades without posting a profit, waging a battle far head of its time against the combustion engine.

It says its moment may finally be arriving.

Fuel cell and hydrogen costs are falling, while emissions rules are tightening. That's broadening the appeal of a technology that allows vehicles to run on the universe's most abundant element, releasing only water and heat as byproducts.