Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have faster refuel times than battery electric vehicles, as well as having more predictable driving ranges

Electric vehicles are just one of many possible options in achieving the zero-emissions target set out by the government.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are increasingly looking to be a viable alternative fuel option, particularly for commercial, public transport and heavy-duty vehicle use.  

Vehicle suppliers and energy companies are exploring the possibility of using FCEVs to meet the goal of zero-emission vehicles.

The Hydrogen Council includes Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, Shell, Total and Daimler and is expected to invest $10 billion over the next five years in developing hydrogen energy.

With the backing of major companies, it is likely that the pace will increase in the development of FCEVs. Over time, you can expect that the gap between Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and FCEVs will slowly close.

To date, BEVs or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) remain to be one of the best options for fleets looking to go green. With BEVs being the ideal choice for a truly low-emission vehicle.

However, BEVs are not necessary the best option, especially when considering the rigorous demands that businesses place on their vehicles.

Driving conditions and heavy payloads can drastically reduce the range achievable on a single charge for a BEV.

This issue is made worse by the typically long charging times required for BEVs. Not to mention that more power stations would need to be built to support the widespread adoption of BEVs.  

As we see advancements in the technology of other alternative fuels, the following limitations of BEVs are highlighted:

• Range 

• Cost of the vehicles themselves

• Charging times and the additional planning required

• Availability of lithium

• The overall life of the batteries

• Impact on available payloads

Whilst many of these limitations are likely to be overcome with advancements in BEV technology, FCEVs might still emerge as the better option in some cases.  

FCEVs are an increasingly strong alternative for long range requirements, and they come with several benefits:

• Average refuel time of around four minutes

• Range is a lot more predictable

• Output from a hydrogen powered vehicle is just water vapor

• Potential for using waste plastic to create hydrogen.

FCEVs clearly overcome many of the challenges presented by BEVs, but the cost of FCEVs is expensive and not well supported.

Firstly, Hydrogen fuel costs nearly double that of diesel. Secondly, there is a scarce amount of only 10 fuel stations in the UK for public use.

Most importantly, the electricity used in creating a hydrogen fuel cell could be used in simply charging a BEV instead.

It is probably no surprise then that FCEVs are not yet ready for mainstream use. What can be said is that we have the makings of an almost ‘alternative fuels race’.

For now, BEVs remains to be the best option for fleets looking to go green, and diesel vans are still the most practical option for most business uses.

How can Northgate help?

Through hiring your vans with Northgate; you gain the flexibility to quickly transition to new technologies as they become viable for your fleet.

Over 86% of our fleet today* is already Euro 6 compliant and we have an expanding number of BEVs that you can take advantage of.

With the short renewal cycles of rental vehicles, our fleet is regularly refreshed with the latest vehicles from world-leading manufacturers.

If you’re ready to start weighing up the benefits of vehicle hire for your business, our fleet consultants are on hand to provide expert advice and talk you through our range of vehicles.

For more infomation: www.northgatevehiclehire.co.uk

*06/11/2019