JLR Builds Prototype Fuel Cell for Defender Model

Jaguar Land Rover appears to be the latest automaker to concede that the best long-term ‘clean’ powertrain option for commercial vehicles is hydrogen fuel cell.

It has begun developing its own prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle based on the new Land Rover Defender, which has several LCV body options, with testing scheduled to begin this year. The concept is part of JLR’s aim to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036 and net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039, in line with the Reimagine strategy announced last month. The prototype fuel cell New Defender will begin testing in the UK to verify key attributes such as off-road capability and fuel consumption.

JLR says it views fuel cell powertrains as complimentary to BEVs although it is clear to many in the industry that future commercial applications will be dominated by fuel cell technology thanks to its longer range and quicker refueling potential. The technology also boasts energy density and minimal loss of range in low temperatures, making it ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, or those operated in hot or cold environments.

Since 2018, the global number of fuel cell vehicles on the road has nearly doubled while hydrogen refueling stations have increased by more than 20%. By 2030, forecasts predict hydrogen-powered vehicle deployment could top 10 million with 10,000 refueling stations worldwide. JLR’s advanced engineering project, known as Project Zeus, is part funded by the government-backed Advanced Propulsion Center and aims to allow engineers understand how a hydrogen powertrain can be best deployed for maximum from range, access and speed of refueling, towing and with off-road ability.

Ralph Clague, head of hydrogen and fuel cells for JLR, said: “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry and, alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles. The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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