We started with steam-driven cars, fossil fuel cars, battery-powered electric cars, and now talking about hydrogen fuel cell cars. Over the years, there have been innovations and introductions of different hydrogen vehicles such as buses, trucks, trains, forklifts, bicycles, golf carts, motorcycles, airplanes, ships, and rockets among others.
The first hydrogen fuel cell car was introduced in 1966 by General Motors. It was called Electrovan. This Electrovan used a fuel cell filled with 2 super-cooled liquids; hydrogen and oxygen. But now, hydrogen technology has evolved over the years to use pressurized hydrogen without any environmental pollutant.
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This is supported by governments of countries and eco-friendly organizations advocating for green hydrogen with net zero emission in order to protect the environment.
The problems associated with hydrogen cars are: it is very expensive, an average man may not afford them and the largest population of the world is on average.
Secondly, 95% of the hydrogen produced is grey hydrogen and the process is by burning natural gas which has a high level of carbon emissions; unless it is green hydrogen. Hence the push for the production of green hydrogen.
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Thirdly, the funding to build hydrogen filling stations/ infrastructures in the public and or at homes to power hydrogen cars are not there. All this leads to setbacks in the industry.
That notwithstanding, a lot of companies are making moves to make hydrogen-powered vehicles an affordable reality, including setting the required infrastructures. In 2018, for instance, Hylium Industries introduced a mobile refilling station that carries hydrogen in its liquid form rather than in its gaseous (explosive) form. It is capable of refilling 100 hydrogen cars per day.
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According to Precedence Research, the global fuel cell electric vehicle market size was valued at USD 4.98 billion in 2021 and is projected to be worth around USD 35.60 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 53.4% over the forecast period (2022-2030).
Below are 8 prominent hydrogen car companies and startups that are making waves in the industry:
- Toyota Motors
- Daimler Motor company
- Hyundai Motors
- Hyzon Motors
- Nikola Motors
- Hyperion Motors
The Toyota motor company is one of the global leaders in the automotive industry. They manufacture fossil fuel vehicles, EVs and hydrogen-powered vehicles, and other mobility solution services.
The company’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is the Toyota Mirai. The Marai first generation, a front-wheel-drive car was launched in 2015 while the second generation, a rear-wheel-drive car was in 2021.
Although the first generation Toyota Marai has 2 tanks with 4.6kg hydrogen tank capacity, the second generation came with a 3 tank of 5.6 kg-volume hydrogen tank that can run for 650km on a full tank without stops for refueling.
It takes just 2-3 minutes to refill in a hydrogen filling station, unlike their EVs. It does not make loud engine noise while driving and it does not make use of gears either.
The Toyota Mirai is one of the first FCVs that are available on the market. Like all Toyota vehicles, the Mirai has comfy seats with beautiful and stylish interior and exterior designs. It promotes clean energy with net zero emission.
Now it is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest distance managed by an FCEV without stopping the refueling.
This is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles. They are into several services ranging from
Daimler Motor company launched its first FCEV first truck in the hydrogen technology in 2020, under its subsidiary ‘Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH and Corporation’ The truck can run up to 1000km without stops for refueling.
They signed an agreement also in 2020 with the green hydrogen producer Linde to develop liquid hydrogen refueling technology for their hydrogen fuel cell trucks.
Being the owner of Mercedes-Benz today, Daimler AG in 2021, announced on its website that its plug-in hydrogen emission-free Mercedes-Benz GLCX F-Cell to run on the roads of Germany.
The hydrogen Benz has a capacity for 4.4kg of hydrogen with a 478km range and a powerful 155kWh output.
The company has made other strategic partnerships with companies such as Volvo Group, Shell, IVECO, and OMU to roll out massive production of hydrogen trucks in Europe and other parts of the world.
In March 2022, they also announced their plans to invest 110 million Euros in hydrogen technology. This announcement was done by the operator at the H2 Mobility Deutschland.
The third company on our list is Hyundai Motor Company. Hyundai is a South Korean automotive manufacturing company that is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Founded by Chung-Ju Yung in 1967, the company has been producing quality cars to earn a front seat in the industry.
In 2013, Hyundai began the production of the Hyundai ix35 FCEV in its Ulsan manufacturing plant, making it the first automaker to begin commercial production of hydrogen cars.
Production of the ix35 FCEV ended in 2018, however, the company replaced it with its flagship eco-friendly car, the Hyundai Nexo. The Hyundai Nexo can go up to 380 miles in a single refill, has 5 minutes refueling time, and a max speed of 111mph, and is currently the only hydrogen-powered SUV in commercial production.
As of 2021, Hyundai motor company signed an agreement with Shell Company to expand clean energy solutions. This contract runs through 2026.
4. Hyzon Motors
This is one of the top hydrogen fuel cell startups in the world. They manufacture and supply zero emissions hydrogen-powered vehicles such as trucks, buses, and coaches. It was founded in 2020 with its headquarters in Rochester, New York, and has offices in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Their hydrogen powered FCEV on the road includes Hyzon class 8 with 375-500 mile range; Hyzon hymax series with 400-680 km range, Hyzon high-floor coach with 200-250 mile range, Hyzon class 6 with 200-250 mile range, and Hyzon garbage truck with 200-250 mile range.
The company’s goal is ‘to accelerate the clean energy transition by providing zero-emission vehicles with no compromise on the power or range’.
They are in partnership with many companies including Raven to create a flexible and robust fueling ecosystem
5. Nikola Corporation
Formerly Nikola Motor company until it rebranded to Nikola Corporation in 2020 is an American heavy duty manufacturer. They specialize in manufacturing trucks. It was founded by Trevor Milton in 2014 and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, US. The company aims to produce hydrogen fuel that will compete with the cost price of diesel.
In 2016, the company announced its first hydrogen fuel vehicle, Nikola One, with 10 wheels and consumes 4.6 kg of hydrogen per 100km. Well, Nikola One was engrossed in a scandal that led the then CEO, Trevor Milton to step down.
Under the leadership of the new CEO, Mark Rusell, the company has gone through a major rebranding and restructuring. The company now has three vehicles, TRE BEV (battery-powered truck) currently available for purchase, TRE FCEV (hydrogen-powered truck), expected to be available in 2023, and TWO FCEV (hydrogen-powered long haul truck), expected to be available in 2024.
Nikola is in partnership with Travel Center of America, and WVR to produce refueling solutions and more hydrogen for refueling by 2023.
The Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) is one of the world’s leading German manufacturers of vehicles, motorcycles, and other mobility services. It is headquartered in Munich, Germany with facilities in 15 countries. It was founded by the trio: Camillo Castiglioni, Franz Josef Popp, and Karl Rapp in 1917.
The BMW iX5 SUV Hydrogen car with CO2-free drive has since the early of the year been undergoing different testing under different weather conditions to ascertain its reliability.
The iX5 uses a rear-wheel drive with a total of 6kg hydrogen in the twin H-tanks, and regenerative braking to help support the battery, with 3-4 minutes refueling time.
BMW will then launch a fleet of this hydrogen-powered iX5 to prove it is ready for the new and future of technology.
BMW has been collaborating with Toyota to make hydrogen fuel cell cars.
7. Hyperion Motors
This is another hydrogen vehicle startup on our list. Hyperion motors with 11years of experience have been in the manufacturing of automobiles since. They are headquartered in Orange, California.
The company aims at revolutionizing the transportation industry with its high-quality hydrogen cell cars. They are into making hydrogen-powered energy, automobiles, and aerospace.
The Hyperion XP-1 ’super car’ is a hydrogen-powered one-off sports car developed by Hyperion Motors. Launched in August 2020, it is the first one-off car built by the brand.
The car has a range of 1000 miles, and it can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.2 seconds. You get a top speed of 220 miles per hour and a 3-5 minute refueling time.
Hyperion Motors plans to build its refueling station similar to that of the Tesla supercharger.
This is a UK-based hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle manufacturer. This start-up Riversimple is focused on an approach that concentrates demand on local hydrogen refueling. The company was founded by Hugo Spowers in 2007, with its headquarters in Llandrindod Wells, Mid Wales.
They developed a hydrogen-powered car called the Rasa. Riversimple refuses to sell their car but rather with a monthly subscription that will cover all car expenses including insurance the company will put the car on lease.
We see the strategic partnership of the company as they partner with Siemens, Oil 4 Wales, and Swansea City Council among others, all in providing an FCEV with zero emissions.
We can say that hydrogen is an ideal energy source and the future of transportation, so as to make our environment safe with its net zero emissions.
Apart from the lack of sufficient refueling locations, an FCEV is almost very simple and quick as using a petrol pump, unlike the EVs.
We hope and believe that with time the expensive price of FCEVs will drop so that anyone can enjoy its benefits.