These zero-emissions vehicles are used for business trips, publicity events and test runs - at technical conferences and trade fairs, for example. “Two Opel/GM HydroGen 4 vehicles were firstly provided to us after the opening of the hydrogen filling station in Düsseldorf. Despite being developed before 2008, these vehicles impressed us with their extremely good performance”, affirms Stefan Garche, of EnergyAgency.NRW. EnergyAgency.NRW has now also had the opportunity of test-driving a Ford Focus FCEV, and thus of gathering more experience and providing the manufacturer with feedback.
EnergyAgency.NRW has been using a Mercedes F-CELL B Class since 2014. Up to today, this vehicle’s fuel cell has powered more than 50,000 kilometres of travel, without any losses in output. Leaving aside a faulty window actuator and a blinker, this car has suffered no technical malfunctions during this time. Its energy consumption is an annual average of around 1.1 kg of hydrogen per 100 kilometres, equivalent to the energy contained in around 3.7 litres of diesel fuel. A Hyundai ix35 FCEV and a Toyota Mirai have also been tested for short periods. Both of these vehicles run quietly, with good torque and acceleration: fuel-cell cars generate very little noise, with the exception of tyre and wind noise at higher speeds.
And the network of hydrogen filling stations is growing continuously (35 in Germany at present, rising to 100 filling stations by the end of 2018). Up to now, tanking up on hydrogen has been possible in NRW in Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Münster and Kamen. These will be followed in the near future by new H2 stations at Mülheim an der Ruhr, Cologne/Bonn Airport, Frechen and Düsseldorf South. Up to today, EnergyAgency. NRW has put in more than 100,000 kilometres of travel in fuel-cell vehicles. And tanked just on one tonne of hydrogen in 500 filling operations at H2 filling stations. The vehicles used emitted a good 50 per cent less CO2 (resulting from the still predominant production of H2 from natural gas) compared to conventional vehicles, but zero NOx and zero fine particulates.
Alongside battery-powered electric cars, fuel-cell vehicles are among the real pioneers in reduction of CO2 emissions from mobility. “The future of driving is set to change radically, and fuel-cell vehicles will play their part. With zero emissions and short filling-up times, they are the solution to the range problem”, comments Prof. Dr. Detlef Stolten, head of the Jülich Research Center’s Institute for Energy and Climate Research.
The Mercedes F-CELL B Class demonstration project concludes in mid-2018. EnergyAgency.NRW will then also have to return the vehicle. Its successor, the Mercedes GLC FCEV, is to be unveiled at the 2017 IAA International Motor Show. Other motor-vehicle manufacturers, such as Honda, Toyota and Hyundai, will also be showing the upcoming generations of fuel-cell vehicles.