First Hydrogen van

First Hydrogen has commenced performance testing of its fuel cell-powered vans (FCEV) for the first time at the Horiba Mira proving ground in Birmingham, where the vehicles are undergoing track based performance trials.

They aim to confirm the safety and performance of the vans prior to handover from powertrain specialist AVL to First Hydrogen.

Last month, the fuel cell-powered LCVs were certified for UK road use ahead of a series of road trials with major UK operators, which start in January 2023.

The vehicles will undertake final testing designed to fine tune operational performance, before they will be available for fleet operator trials to commence in the New Year.

The company’s inaugural vehicles have more than five times more range capability than their battery electric equivalent – achieving 400-600km range on a single fuelling compared to the 115km range of the battery electric van running at the same maximum speed.

With a refuelling time of approximately five minutes, First hydrogen said this week that the time required to power First Hydrogen’s FCEVs “dramatically undercuts” the five hours it takes to recharge a battery electric van.

First Hydrogen’s vehicle demonstrator programme aims to encourage adoption of the technology, whet market appetite and inform development for future vehicle trials in the EU, the US and Canada.

Feedback and high-level purchase commitments will also support the design and development of First Hydrogen’s next generation of vehicles, which it plans to bring to market in the next few years.

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The global light commercial vehicle market is projected to reach $786.5bn (£659.61bn) by 20303.

The vans come with First Hydrogen’s complete Hydrogen-as-a-Service (HaaS) solution, which supplies green hydrogen fuel, distribution and complementing vehicle management services, to help the sector meet zero emission targets.

The fuel cell powered vans, which have been fitted out at AVL’s facility in Basildon, contain a hydrogen fuel system installed by First Hydrogen and a fuel stack supplied by Ballard Power Systems.

The vans have also been wrapped in First Hydrogen branded blue and white livery, designed to reference the vehicle’s hydrogen-propulsion system.

Steve Gill, chief executive of automotive at First Hydrogen, said: “The team has been working tirelessly to reach this monumental achievement. It has been phenomenal to watch the performance on the test track and really brought our vision into reality.

“These vehicles enable us to demonstrate how hydrogen fuel cell systems can serve the LCV market; delivering the range and providing the operational flexibility commercial fleets require.”

Nicholas Wrigley, chairman of First Hydrogen added: “We are delighted with the initial performance of the First Hydrogen fuel cell van. There is growing pressure on the transport sector to achieve zero emission targets, which means operators, governments and investors are eager to see the power of hydrogen mobility in action.

“Using donor vehicles has enabled us to bring our first demonstrator vans to market quickly. This approach also allows customers to see, feel and experience the operational benefits of hydrogen propulsion in a familiar set up.”