Categories: Environment

Hydrogen vehicle: where are we in France in 2022?

With confidential sales and stations, hydrogen technology is struggling to break through in France, but could find its interest in utilities and trucks.

With 14 sales in France in 2021, that is to say that hydrogen is confidential in France. The offer is effectively reduced to only 2 fuel cell models, the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai at the high price.

However, their price / equipment ratio is not so far from electric, and their range reaches 700 km. These cars mainly supply the fleet of Hype taxis, which currently operates in Paris. In the future, only BMW and Jaguar-Land Rover are planning such vehicles, but not before 2025. As for the hydrogen combustion engine, it is an Arlésienne, which Toyota is still trying to develop.

Hydrogen, the future of utility vehicles and trucks?

In reality, this technology has little future for individuals, unlike professionals. The latest novelties show this: the Renault Kangoo and Master H2 duo, the Hyvia or the Stellantis Peugeot e-expert, Citroën ë-Jumpy and Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen trio.

The choice of utilities to develop hydrogen is logical compared to electric. First, vehicles do not carry heavy batteries reducing the maximum payload. Deuxio, filling up with hydrogen only takes a few minutes, against several hours on a conventional electrical outlet.

Thirdly, companies can set up their own station hydrogen, a plus for captive fleets. They can even produce their own hydrogen via an electrolyser, which is more ecological (water and electricity are used instead of a fossil source), but still expensive.

This also applies for buses, and especially for trucks, where hydrogen is even more appreciated. The proof, Nikola continues to garner orders for his Tre designed with Iveco, while Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler, Gaussin and Hyzon are the major brands involved.

A network of hydrogen stations to be built

If the supply of hydrogen vehicles grows, should it be easy to refuel? Besides the choice of a private hydrogen station, the public network is struggling to grow. After the first station in 2015, there are 30 public stations in 2022, and ten in the pipeline. 10 are in Normandy, 6 in the Paris region and 6 in the Lyon-Chambéry-Grenoble-Valence square.

If the infrastructure is struggling to develop, it is because all electricity is favored by businesses and communities. Nevertheless, however, the European Union has vast ambitions for 2030. The European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, wants “At least one station every 150 kilometers”. This would provide a target of 60,000 trucks on the roads. France Hydrogen is targeting 300,000 cars and utility vehicles in its “Ambition 2030” scenario, as well as 5,000 trucks and buses.

Finally, the challenge will be to lower the price of hydrogen. Today, it costs around 10 euros per kilogram, while it is not yet taxed. It should be lowered to 6 euros / kg by 2027 to become competitive, selon A. Vălean.

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