A one-stop-shop to make it easier for van fleet operators to operate and maintain hydrogen-fuel cell range-extended electric CVs has been launched.

ITM Power, Symbio FCell and Arcola Energy have joined forces to provide a complete package of services including preparation, insurance, site approvals, vehicle registration and staff training for van fleets making the switch to the zero-emission technology.

The new service is suitable for both local authority and private van fleets and is particularly suited to those running large urban fleets with a central refuelling and maintenance hub.

Symbio FCell is a specialist in designing fuel cells and range-extenders, with major European firms such as La Poste, Air Liquide and Schneider Electric running the company’s range-extended electric vehicles (REEV).

The Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 electric van is fitted with a fuel cell range-extender from Symbio FCell. It is now in series production and offers a range of more than 200 miles, which Symbio said is more than double the range of the electric-only van. It provides a hydrogen refuelling time of less than three minutes, but with the added benefit of being able to plug-in whenever possible. (See below for more technical details.)

Fabio Ferrari, CEO of Symbio FCell, said: "Working with ITM Power and Arcola Energy will allow us to expand deployment of our fleet-ready Renault Kangoo hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vans in the UK."

A similar vehicle, adapted to the Renault Trucks Maxity 4.5-tonne electric light duty truck is also being tested at La Poste and will be commercially available in 2016.

ITM Power recently launched a wind-to-hydrogen refueller near the M1 in Rotherham and announced a strategic partnership with Shell to place three refuellers on forecourts in the UK.  It is also building five refuelling stations in London.

Arcola Energy is an engineering services business that can provide technical support and maintenance for van fleets using fuel cell technology. It also offers training to drivers and fleet managers to help them get the most out of the ne technology, as well as helping operators to promote the benefits of the zero-emissions vehicles to their local communities.

Ben Todd, MD at Arcola Energy, said: "The Symbio FCell zero-emission vans combined with ITM Power's clean hydrogen production means truly low carbon and non-polluting fleets are now possible for UK cities. With rapid changes in environmental regulation in urban centres and emerging uncertainties in the claims made for conventional vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles are becoming increasing popular, especially with organisations with large urban fleets and central refuelling and maintenance depots."

Key facts: Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 by Symbio FCell

  • The fuel cell range-extender is fitted in the Renault factory without any structural modification to the vehicle and with full OEM end-of-line quality control.
  • In the UK the vans are fully VCA approved and have National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA). They also receive full Renault dealership support.
  • The fuel cell produces electricity, heat and water.  Electricity produced by the fuel cell is used to charge the battery and drive the motor; while the heat produced is captured and used to warm the vehicle cabin in winter.
  • With the range extender kit, battery lifetime is also extended because the increased driving range reduces the frequency of deep battery discharge that degrades the battery.
  • The range extender kit can be dismounted and re-mounted in a new vehicle if required.
  • The 74-litre hydrogen tank has a 15-year service lifetime and a driving range of approximately 360km per full tank, equivalent to 0.5 kg H2 per 100km  (this is real driving range).  Figures from a key customer are 344.9km per tank in urban/peri-urban usage with 300kg payload.
  • The refuelling time is less than three minutes.