Vauxhall invents the PHFCEV LCV

Tom Barnard

19.5.2021

Vauxhall has confused us all by revealing a plug-in hybrid vehicle which doesn’t have an internal combustion engine. Instead, the new zero emissions Vivaro-e van uses a fuel cell powered by hydrogen to back up the battery power and give a range of up to 249 miles and a three minute refuelling time. 

The cargo volume is the same as the diesel or battery electric versions.Vauxhall is actively speaking to business customers and big fleets in the UK about hydrogen fuel cell and expects right-hand drive vehicles to arrive in 2023. Sister brand Opel plans to start delivering the first left-hand drive vehicles later this year.

Vauxhall will bring the new van in during 2023

The new fuel cell electric van is based on the existing Vivaro-e. The big battery pack is replaced by three 700- bar hydrogen tanks and a smaller 10.5kWh lithium-ion battery. The fuel cell is capable of generating enough power for continuous motorway driving, while the battery, located under the front seats, provides peak power when required - for example, at start-up and under acceleration. 

The battery also enables regenerative braking and can be plugged in to the mains to provide 31 miles of pure battery electric range.The van is likely to be restricted to fleet users who have access to hydrogen supplies, as there are currently very few public refuelling points. However, businesses and organisations are expected to shift the hydrogen as a cleaner fuel for use in heavy trucks and buses. For these users, a hydrogen van could make sense. It’s unlikely to be cheap though – a FCEV Toyota Mirai costs around £60,000 and the van’s extra battery and PHEV hardware could make it even more expensive.

Load space is unaffected and carrying capacity actually improves


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