Hydrogen vehicles put through their paces in zero-emission expo

The Latest Drive n’ Ride initiative in Strasbourg demonstrates the technology readiness of hydrogen fuel cells for zero-emission transport in Europe.

The Drive n’ Ride event which started today in Strasbourg is the fifth such event in its series.

The latest iteration, which will last for two days, kicked off under the patronage of Brian Simpson, MEP and Chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee.

Today and tomorrow will see MEPs, political advisors and other stakeholders test-drive six different models of fuel cell electric cars by Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Intelligent Energy, Opel and Toyota.

Participants will also have the opportunity to watch the refuelling process at a fully mobile and compact hydrogen station, the first of its kind in the city of Strasbourg, provided for the occasion by Air Liquide an international provider of gasses for industrial use.

The UK has already invested in some infrastructure to support hydrogen fuel cell transport systems. British fuel cell technology company Intelligent Energy has been a key partner in establishing these networks.

Commenting on today’s test drive event in France and the future of hydrogen propulsion in the UK Dennis Hayter, VP of business development at Intelligent Energy commented: “Today’s event follows a successful summer for Intelligent Energy, one of the lead partners of the HyTEC project [Hydrogen Transport for European Cities], which introduced a fleet of pioneering hydrogen fuel cell powered taxis onto the streets of London during the Olympics and Paralympics.”

My Hayter said that this project had demonstrated publicly that fuel cell electric vehicles are a viable option for public and private transport with zero emissions at point of use. “We now hope to build on this in order to realise the commercialisation of hydrogen transport,” he concluded.

The fastest growing markets for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are so far outside the UK. Germany recently announced that it will increase its current 14 hydrogen fuelling stations to 50 sites by 2015. France and some Scandanvian countries have also expressed intent to expand current infrastructure.

Commercialisation concerns do exist ahead of using hydrogen fuel cell technology on a large scale. But one of the objectives of Drive n’ Ride is to foster public-private partnerships which will drive investment in R&D to address the challenges of scalability.

“Only strong public-private partnerships will create the stable framework needed to bridge the gap to full commercialisation and, in consequence, create jobs and growth in Europe,” stressed Pierre-Etienne Franc director of Technologies of the Future at Air Liquide and chairman of the fuel cells and hydrogen joint undertaking, the European public-private partnership that brings together the European Commission, industry and the research community working in the fuel cell and hydrogen sector.

To read more about European hydrogen production, infrastructure and the time to market for the first main stream, mass produced hydrogen fuel cell cars see TM November.