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First Hydrogen is to begin operational testing of its hydrogen-powered vans next month and is planning to launch road trials with fleet operators from September this year.

The two demonstrator MAN-based vans are equipped with Ballard Power Systems’ (Ballard) fuel cells and are currently being built by AVL Powertrain UK.

The company said there was significant interest in the vehicles and expects the vans to be road legal by September and ready for trials to be conducted with a number of major fleet operators.

Steve Gill (pictured), chief executive of First Hydrogen Automotive, said: “We chose to start by developing road-legal demonstrators using a donor platform that will enable customers to see, feel and experience the benefits and operation of a hydrogen propulsion system in a familiar set-up. It also helps them to and compare it directly to a battery electric vehicle (BEV).

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“This design and build process allows us to bring our product to customers in a much shorter timeframe. The base vehicle is derived from a MAN eTGE electric van, which is part of the Volkswagen Group.

“The Ballard FCgen-LCS hydrogen powered fuel cell and hydrogen tanks have been integrated without impacting the customer features of the van, such as interior space or load height.

He added: “The resulting vehicles will have over 500km of range capability, based on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), versus a 115km range when compared to a base BEV with the same maximum speed. The refuelling time is typically five minutes.”