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These manufacturers who rely on hydrogen

These manufacturers who rely on hydrogen
Written by madishthestylebar

Traditional manufacturers are looking more and more towards hydrogen, while newcomers, including the French company Hopium, dream of being the leader of this new fuel.

Even big 4X4s get into it. The British manufacturer Ineos has just announced that the Grenadier, its first model, originally equipped with large combustion engines signed BMW, will be available by the end of the year in a hydrogen prototype. Enough to ensure a future for the very young brand as Europe plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2035.

While battery-powered electricity is becoming widespread, more and more brands are eyeing hydrogen, which is also much more virtuous in terms of CO2 (see box below). This solution is intended in particular for large vehicles, SUVs, 4x4s and especially utilities to launch vehicles in the middle of the decade.

Confidential sales, Hyundai and Toyota as pioneers

The market remains confidential for the moment. In 2021, there were 15,500 units sold worldwide according to the firm Jato Dynamic, with 55% of sales in South Korea. This is still better than in 2020, +84%, but this represents a tiny part of global sales, less than 0.0001%. And if South Korea absorbs more than one in two sales, it is because among the pioneers of hydrogen is the national brand, Hyundai.

The Korean manufacturer launched in 2013 with the iX35 Fuel Cell, which was succeeded by the Nexo, the second generation of which was released in 2018. The other market pioneer is Toyota, with the Mirai, which is also to its second generation, released last year. But even with lower prices – 11,000 euros less on the new generation of the Mirai – they remain high – 69,400 euros on the sedan. Not to mention the issue of stations, which are still too few. Purchases are therefore almost exclusively made by professionals.

This Renault Master minibus runs on hydrogen.
This Renault Master minibus runs on hydrogen. ©Renault

It is through this clientele that other manufacturers intend to launch into hydrogen, in particular the French. Stellantis is thus launching a utility offer. The Peugeot Expert Citroën Jumpy and Opel Vivaro are available in hydrogen versions with a small series production to start, 2000 copies planned this year. On the Renault side, the Hyvia subsidiary also started deliveries of its first Renault Masters this year, which will be produced in Batilly, near Metz (Meurthe-et-Moselle), with three versions offered: “Van” and “Chassis” versions. large volume” for transporting goods, and a “City Bus” version for transporting people. The fuel cells will be integrated in Gretz-Armainvilliers (Seine-et-Marne). Enough to decarbonize fleets that swallow the kilometers every day.

Autonomy and full ease

Because that’s the advantage of hydrogen: offering real autonomy and quick refueling compared to electric. With a fleet of hydrogen utilities, the cost of a refueling station can be amortized by ensuring a fleet of captive vehicles for refueling.

There are indeed still few stations in France, a few dozen, but the situation must improve. The specialist HysetCo has, for example, just built Porte de Saint-Cloud, in Paris (16th century), a production and distribution station capable of delivering one tonne of hydrogen per day. Enough to supply taxis, heavy goods vehicles and why not eventually private cars with this fuel of the future. A fill-up corresponding to approximately 5 kg on a light vehicle, a station like that of Porte de Saint-Cloud can therefore provide approximately 200 fill-ups per day. It remains to see the price of a kilo of hydrogen drop, currently between 12 and 15 euros. And above all to be able to produce “green” hydrogen, i.e. low CO2 emissions in production, for example thanks to wind turbines.

A Toyota Mirai at a hydrogen station.
A Toyota Mirai at a hydrogen station. © Pauline Ducamp

Renault or Stellantis are also working on adding a fuel cell as a range extender on battery-powered vehicles. And they are not alone. Last month, a Renault Zoé traveled 2055.68 kilometers on a single charge. This Zoé had been modified by the Tarn research and development company ARM Engineering. The latter has equipped Renault’s electric city car with a fuel cell powered by agricultural methanol. Called GH-3, this renewable fuel is produced by methanizing manure. Reformed on board the vehicle, it generates hydrogen which itself produces electricity and thus supplies the battery. For 3 days, five drivers drove the modified Renault Zoé on the 3.5 kilometer racing circuit in Albi between 7am and midnight. With a full 200 liters of GH-3, they managed to travel 2055.68 kilometers, thus beating the record of 1360 kilometers held by a Toyota Mirai in the United States.

New players like Hopium or NAMX

Proof that hydrogen is increasingly becoming a solution for the mobility of tomorrow, this technology is attracting new players, like Tesla and the electric car in the 2000s. Alongside the French company Hopium, which will only produce than hydrogen cars, a brand new brand has just unveiled a “HUV”, an H20 SUV. NAMX plans to market this first model in 2025, and is considering an original way of refueling, while waiting for the network of stations to expand.

NAMX, a new manufacturer which relies on a
NAMX, a new manufacturer betting on a “HUV”, a hydrogen-powered SUV © NAMX

But faced with this problem, a new NAMX brand has just unveiled its first HUV, a hydrogen SUV. The HUV is recharged with capsules. To fill up with hydrogen, it is not necessary to stop at a station. Just put a capsule containing fuel in the tank. Nothing is yet specified on the capacity of these capsules, and therefore the autonomy, or on the network which will allow them to be recharged. NAMX promises us more information at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris (October 17-23). A show where Hopium will also be present.

Hydrogen car, how does it work?
How does a hydrogen car work? Pretty much like an electric car. With one exception, the electricity is not stored in a battery, it is produced within the vehicle by a fuel cell. By combining the hydrogen with the oxygen present in the air, the fuel cell will generate electricity… and pure water, rejected by the exhaust. The interest is quickly understood: no need to recharge the car, just fill up with hydrogen, an operation very similar to a full tank of conventional fuel.

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