Recently Sandicliffe Motor Contract attended the Hydrogen Vehicle Discover Day in Nottingham to understand more about how hydrogen vehicles may influence fleet decision makers in the future.
H2 Vehicle Discovery Day
The event was hosted by the Energy Technology Research Institute of the University of Nottingham (UoN) in conjunction with Nottingham City Council and was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.
The event provided an opportunity for businesses and academics to discover more about the range of hydrogen vehicles and infrastructure available.
On the day, vehicles displayed included the Toyota Mirai, Hyundai iX35 Fuel Cell, Ford Transit H2 ICE and the Renault Kangoo Z.E H2.
Speaking at the event, Professor Gavin Walker from the University of Nottingham, introduced what research was taking place and how they were leading the research development committee for H2 storage and technologies at the UoN.
Alongside Prof. Walker, there were insights into ‘Propulsion Future’ from Prof. David Grant, who gave an overview on developments taking place which included work being carried out for Electric jets for aircraft with Rolls-Royce. There were also sessions from Dr Nick McCarthey on hydrogen vehicles and infrastructure in the UK, which suggested the ambition for H2 vehicles, however it presented limitations and complications due to the infancy of H2 as a propulsion method.
The event concluded with a session from Nottingham City Council’s Wayne Bexton, Head of Energy Project at NCC exploring how the council was working towards reducing air pollution in the city. Ideas which many cities across the UK are already exploring with suggestions of clean air zones (CAZ) taxes and scrappage schemes for the most polluting vehicles.
How do H2 vehicles work?
Here comes the science bit! Hydrogen powered vehicles use a fuel cell instead of a battery, or combine with a battery to power an on-board electric motor.
To source the H2, the gas has to be either extracted from fossil fuels, sourced by electrolysis of water (using lots of electricity) or produced from biomas gasification (a slow and lengthy process). Once the hydrogen gas is created, it then needs to be compressed into fuel cells.
The fuel cells then generate electricity to power the motor, using oxygen from the air and the compressed hydrogen, with its waste output being water vapour (H2O) – and a healthy zero emission 0g/km of C02. However, is all this eco-friendly talk really that green? Particularly when considering the manufacturing process of the gas versus other energy sources?
H2 Vehicles on display
The Mirai has been specifically designed from the outset as a fuel cell vehicle. It’s looks offer up mixed opinions with is darting fish like shape not appealing to all. In terms of performance, the Mirai offers a 0-60mph time of 10.1 secs, top speed of 111mph, 0g/km of CO2 and a 312 mile range on a full tank of fuel, equivalent to 79mpg. Price starting from £60k.
The iX35 fuel cell is adapted from the company’s existing ix35 SUV. It offers 0-60mph time of 12.5secs, top speed of 100mph, 0g/km of CO2 and a 369 mile range. Price starting from £53k.
Ford Transit H2ICE
Is a duel fuel hydrogen diesel conversion by ULEMCo. They claim customers expect 160-180 miles range in dual fuel mode with an 75-85mpg, 70% of which comes from hydrogen. Details of conversion prices are unavailable.
Renault Kangoo Z.E H2
The Kangoo performance is less to be desired however it does offer a 228 mile range but no details on price.
With H2 infrastructure in its infancy, there are currently less than half a dozen public refilling stations across the UK, meaning that this is less than practical for fleet managers to consider.
However, for those that are tempted to look into fuel cell technology, there are only a handful of vehicles which are commercially available in the UK, which remain expensive in comparison to petrol, diesel or electric rivals.
The Mirai from Toyota, as a H2 example costs around £60k which includes the £4,500 Category 1 UK Plug-in Car Grant. However, in comparison to the similar vehicles which also qualify for the grant, does it make sense to choose hydrogen over electric?
H2 vs Electric Comparison
|Model||Price||0-60 mph||Top Speed||CO2||Range|
|Toyota Mirai (H2)||£60,000||10.1 sec||111 mph||0g/km||312 miles|
|Hyundai Ioniq (EV)||£24,495||10.1 sec||103 mph||0g/km||174 miles|
|BMW i3 (EV)||£31,670||7.8 sec||93 mph||0g/km||92 miles|
What’s the best option?
In terms of practicality and infrastructure currently available, diesel, petrol and PHEVs are going to be suited to most businesses needs. When considering your operational network or company environmental credentials then Electric or PHEVs could potentially be the right choice for your business, but where does this leave H2 vehicles?
H2 vehicles do offer some really great incentives such excellent range and zero emissions. Providing you are able to install H2 fuelling at your business or have a H2 filling station near to your operations, then it may be the right option for you. But currently this alternative is best suited to businesses in a niche sector, where the organisation is truly focused on reducing its environmental impact as part of their operations.
With any fuel alternative, your business goals, operational network and industry should always be at the core of the decision making process. Our team are happy to provide you with the necessary consultation and review of your businesses fleet arrangements and help you make the best decision.
If you are you looking to make your fleet greener or would like to find out more about which vehicles are eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant, then contact us before the end of April 2018.