JLR to begin first hydrogen car tests this year

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has unveiled plans to test a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) this year, as part of its vision to deliver zero tailpipe emissions by 2036.

JLR to begin first hydrogen car tests this year

Pictured: The New Land Rover Defender plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)

The prototype model, which does not yet have a name, based on the New Land Rover Defender. Developed using funding from the UK Government’s Advances Propulsion Centre and JLR’s own R&D budget, the vehicle will be tested at JLR’s UK technology hubs in the latter half of 2021.

Tests will be used to inform potential improvements to range and refuelling – some current barriers to FCEV adoption, aside from the upfront cost of vehicles. Off-road ability will also be measured during the test phase.

JLR has not announced details of when it may be ready to launch its first FCEV to market. However, the business has already committed to delivering zero tailpipe emissions by 2036 and net-zero carbon emissions across products, operations and the supply chain by 2039. It will stop producing Jaguar Vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2025, extending this commitment to Land Rover vehicles in the UK by 2030 and globally by 2036.

Some £2.5bn will be invested each year through to 2030 by JLR in R&D relating to electric and low-emission vehicles. While electric vehicles (EVs) with improved battery technology and lighter components will be the main focus, it is clear that hydrogen FCEVs also have a major role in the firm’s approach.

“We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery EVs, it offers another zero-tailpipe-emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of JLR’s world-class line-up of vehicles,” the firm’s head of hydrogen fuel cells Ralph Clague said.

JLR is badging its hydrogen work as ‘Project Zeus’. It is collaborating with organisations including Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) in Coventry to deliver the prototype.

In explaining its focus on hydrogen, JLR cited the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2019 report on hydrogen, which states that the global hydrogen FCEV stock almost doubled between 2018 and 2019. At the same time, that report revealed, the number of hydrogen refuelling stations globally grew by 20%. The Hydrogen Council used these findings to forecast that hydrogen FCEV deployment could surpass 10 million vehicles by 2030.

A more recent report from Bloomberg Intelligence outlined how hydrogen could account for 25% of final energy consumption in the road transport sector by 2050.

The news comes as the UK awaits the publication of the Hydrogen Strategy. While last year’s Ten Point Plan for the Green Industrial Revolution from Boris Johnson confirmed £500m to support the delivery of 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production this decade, the Strategy will hopefully provide the specifics of how this will be allocated while outlining a longer-term vision for hydrogen production, distribution and sector exports.

Toyota’s Mirai milestone

In related news, Toyota announced late last week that one of its Mirai FCEVs has covered more than 1,000km on a single tank of fuel. It claims that this beats previous records for a hydrogen vehicle of this size.

The journey started in Orly, France, and covered 1,003km across the Loir-et-Cher and Indre-et-Loire areas. Green hydrogen – produced using electrolysers powered by renewable electricity – was used to fuel the Mirai during the trip. Overall consumption was measured at 0.55kg of fuel per 100km travelled.

“While the 1,000-km marker was broken by Toyota’s drivers adopting an economical driving style, no techniques were used that could not be replicated in everyday driving,” Toyota said in a statement. Toyota France’s chief executive Frank Marotte called the milestone “an amazing result” that “embodies” the business’s “mentality of going beyond our own limits”.

The trip was undertaken during part of Paris de l’hydrogene – an exhibition on hydrogen and renewable energy. The event also saw the Eiffel Tower illuminated using green hydrogen.

Sarah George

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