Vauxhall Backs Hydrogen for Mass LCV Market

Vauxhall/Opel has revealed its first hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle in the shape of the Vivaro-e Hydrogen aimed at the mass light commercial vehicle market.

While its claimed range of up to 249 miles may be comparable with BEV competitors, it can be refueled to 100% in just three minutes while also sharing the same cargo volume up to 6.1 cubic meters as its ICE powered siblings. This will be a huge advantage to LCV users who have to travel both in rural and urban areas and cannot afford the downtime that they would risk while charging BEV delivery vans.

Opel plans to start delivering the first left-hand drive vehicles to fleet customers in autumn/winter 2021, while Vauxhall is sounding out business customers in the UK about hydrogen fuel cell and expects right-hand drive vehicles to arrive in 2023. The Vivaro-e Hydrogen will be assembled at Vauxhall/Opel’s Research and Development Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany.

The new fuel cell electric vehicle is based on the existing battery electric Vivaro-e with two sliding side-doors. The plug-in fuel cell concept of the van enables the integration of the whole fuel cell system with the existing traction motor under the bonnet of the production vehicle.

In addition, the battery of the Vivaro-e BEV is replaced by three 700- bar carbon fiber hydrogen tanks. The vehicle becomes a fuel cell electric LCV without any modifications to the body  and is available in standard 4.95m (16.2ft) and long 5.30m (17.38ft) wheelbases, while the payload increases to 1,100kg (2,420lbs).

It has a 45kW fuel cell capable of generating enough power for continuous highway speeds driving, while a 10.5kWh lithium-ion battery, located under the front seats, provides dynamic peak power when required, for example, at start-up and under acceleration. The battery also enables regenerative braking, while the plug-in capability offers the opportunity to recharge the battery externally if necessary, for example at a charging station, providing 31 miles of pure battery electric range.

Paul Willcox, managing director, Vauxhall, said: “Vauxhall is already leading the way with an all-electric van range, and now we are set to add hydrogen to the line-up as an efficient energy system of the future. Vauxhall-Opel has more than 20 years of experience in developing hydrogen fuel technology which offers zero emissions-in-use, a long driving range and ultra-fast refueling.”

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

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