Hyundai Is Testing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus in Europe
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Over the next couple of weeks, Hyundai will be working with bus operators in Germany to conduct real-world tests of its hydrogen-powered Elec City Fuel Cell buses.
This comes as a crucial step in the company’s efforts to bring zero-emission buses to European markets, especially after the approval of the EU’s new climate change law.
The Elec City Fuel Cell bus has been gaining a lot of traction lately as an alternative to the more popular electric commercial vehicles. 108 hydrogen-powered buses were built in South Korea in 2019, according to Autoweek. Automakers are starting to release more electric commercial vehicles
How has the Elec City Fuel Cell bus performed so far?
Through the years, the bus has been used on multiple routes around Korea. This has led to a reduction of carbon emissions by about 7,700 tons compared to internal combustion buses, as reported by Autoweek. On an annual basis, the buses currently in service should reduce emissions by the equivalent quantity of CO2 eliminated in a year by 1,500 hectares of forest.
This new series of tests will allow two bus operators to evaluate the bus performance in Munich. These include the operators Geldhauser and Ettenhuber. They will each take turns running the bus along popular travel routes in the area while carrying passengers.
According to a Hyundai release, the company plans to run tests with four more bus companies this year to gather feedback from drivers and passengers. Hyundai hopes to prove that hydrogen-powered vehicles can compete with battery-electric buses to provide clean mobility.
Hydrogen fuel cell vs. electric
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and electric battery-powered vehicles both seem to be greener options compared to gas-powered cars. So, what exactly sets the two apart?
According to You Matter, both types of vehicles rely on electricity to run. Battery-electric cars store electricity in their battery packs.
Fuel-cell cars have a hydrogen tank that feeds a fuel cell with hydrogen gas that’ll mix with oxygen. This mix creates a chemical reaction to produce electricity with water and heat as a byproduct.
It typically takes around five to 10 minutes to refuel a hydrogen tank, like any petrol car. Tesla’s fast chargers give batteries 80% power in half an hour. The charging time gives hydrogen fuel cell technology an edge, but there is a lot more electric vehicle charging stations available than hydrogen refilling stations.
A big challenge with fuel-cell cars is trying to get hydrogen. Hydrogen doesn’t exist in its pure form, and it’ll need to be produced out of other compounds, like water, or extracted. Both the production and extraction of natural gas, called fracking, can have significant negative environmental impacts.
Hyundai is one of the key auto industry leaders that have confidence in hydrogen models and is committed to developing the technology further.
What is the range of Hyundai’s fuel cell buses?
Hyundai’s Elec City Fuel Cell bus offers over 310 miles of range.
The bus packs a 180kW high-capacity hydrogen fuel cell system made up of two 90kW fuel cells. The 180 kW output gives enough driving force to comfortably propel the vehicle even in hilly conditions. There are also five hydrogen tanks with up to 34 kg of hydrogen positioned on the bus’ roof.
According to Martin Zeilinger, head of the CV Development Tech Unit at Hyundai, “using leading fuel cell technology, the company sets out to demonstrate how the mass production of Elec City Fuel Cell buses can reduce CO2 emissions and provide clean mobility.”
By running the trials, the company will be in a better position to meet the needs of European consumers.
The future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
Hyundai’s ultimate aim is to lower the CO2 footprint in the transport industry using hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Because of their success so far, hydrogen fuel cell buses are expected to gain popularity in the coming decade, especially in South Korea. Hyundai will inevitably be competing with battery-electric buses.
Moscow has a fleet of about 600 electric battery-powered vehicles. The country even has plans underway to switch all its country buses to battery-electric models. Paris and London also currently have hundreds of electric buses roaming their streets.
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