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Riversimple MK2 to Be Unveiled February 17, 2016

Hydrogen fuel cell carmaker Riversimple has stated that they intend to unveil the new 2-seater MK2 (Mark 2) automobile on February 17, 2016 and I couldn’t be more excited.

Boasting 250 mpge and a 300 mile range the Riversimple MK2 represents a significant leap for fuel cell vehicles.

The vehicle contains an 8.5 kW PEM fuel cell, carbon fiber frame, compressed hydrogen tank, regenerative braking, supercapacitors and in-wheel motors.

Riversimple not only intends to rollout disruptive technology in the UK but also a unique offering to its customers.

According to Riversimple, “A nippy 0-55 mph in 9 seconds, it is light to handle, responsive and fun to drive. About 250 mpg equivalent, it emits nothing more than a tiny amount of water. The Riversimple service includes the car and all associated running costs, including fuel … We’re a different sort of car company.  We’ll never sell a car as a product.  We offer mobility as a service.  For a fixed monthly fee our customers will receive a car – their car – and all the maintenance, insurance and fuel to run it.  One payment to cover everything – at the equivalent monthly cost of running a normal, average car.”

As complex as the technology of this vehicle may sound, Riversimple has made it easy to drive a hydrogen car now.












Photos Courtesy Riversimple


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Home Hydrogen Fueling Stations a Step Closer with SimpleFuel

This week the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) announced the SimpleFuel™ Home Vehicle Refueling Appliance as a finalist for the $1 million H2 Refuel H-Prize competition. I had first talked about this in May 2013 when the DOE had first made the announcement about the competition.

The announcement this week stated, “The six submissions were received in October of 2015, and a panel of judges and safety experts conducted a thorough review to determine if the designs have the potential to meet the basic criteria for a safe home or community refueling system. Based on this evaluation, only one submission, SimpleFuels’s, was determined to meet the criteria for advancing to the finalist stage.

“The contestant describes their SimpleFuel™ Home Vehicle Refueling Appliance as a fully integrated hydrogen generation, compression, storage and dispensing system capable of delivering up to 5 kg/day of hydrogen to vehicles at pressures up to 700 bar. SimpleFuel states that their system could also provide fleet automobile and material handling markets with dependable, on-site hydrogen solutions that have the potential to reduce GHG emissions significantly.”

In August 2015, I had talked about how Mike Strizki had sold the first consumer solar-hydrogen Joule Box portable charge station in the United States (and perhaps world). The Joule Box includes a home hydrogen refueling station among other features.

Now the SimpleFuel™ Home Vehicle Refueling Appliance my build upon this success. A prototype is expected to rollout the summer of 2016 and if it meets all criteria then the company will be awarded the $1 million prize in December of 2016.









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Honda Clarity to Lease for $500 / Month – Glass Half Full or Empty?


Honda announced earlier this month that it intends to lease its Clarity fuel cell vehicle at the end of 2016 in California for just under $500 per month. Is this good news or bad?

If you compare the 5-seat Clarity to the 4-seat Toyota Mirai, the monthly lease price is about the same. Ten years ago the naysayers were crying that nobody will ever be able to afford a hydrogen car because they cost more than $1 million to produce (and at that time they did).

Five years ago the Chicken Littles of the world were squawking that no one will ever be able to afford a hydrogen car since they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce (and at that time they did).

Fast forward to today.

With the same information about the Clarity costing $500/ month to lease, a Negative Nancy over at Autoblog has stated that “Honda Clarity proves hydrogen future always costs $500/month”.

And, wait, there’s more. With the same information as stated above a Debbie Downer at Car and Driver has written an article titled “The High Price of Hydrogen: Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Will Sticker for Nearly $60K”.

It’s no secret that hydrogen haters have been around for decades. And, over time, many of them have skidded off the road under the weight of their own faulty arguments. Unfortunately there are some vocal hydrogen buzzkills that still remain who try to spin good news into bad in an effort to convince water lovers everywhere that the glass is half empty when it is indeed half full.







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The Case for High MPGe Hydrogen FCEVs and Clustered H2 Stations

Critics of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have often stated that building a hydrogen fueling station refueling infrastructure is overwhelmingly impossible. Even those who are neutral on hydrogen cars state the same concern.

So, let me present a couple of different models of H2 Refueing to reduce those fears.


High MPGe H2 Fuel Cell Vehicles

The first model is to build high MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

It makes sense that:

-The higher MPGe vehicles will use less fuel.

-The less fuel needed, the fewer fueling stations needed.

-The fewer fueling stations needed, the less cost to build an H2 fueling infrastructure.


According to the Huffington Post, the average new vehicle mpg in 2014 was 24.1. According to FuelEconomy.gov the Mirai receives a combined rating of 66 mpge and the Hyundai Tucson receives 50 mpge combined mileage. This means that right now the commercial fuel cell vehicles are more than 2x as economical as the average fossil fuel burning vehicle. And this is just the beginning as more advances in fuel cell and yes, battery technology will lead to higher MPGe vehicles (and a need for fewer fueling stations).

A second model is the cluster model of hydrogen fueling stations, which is what is going on in California right now.

Cluster Model of H2 Fueling Stations

The cluster model simply states that hydrogen fueling stations be placed where most of the population (and customers) are already located.

In December of 2007, Larry Burns of General Motors made the statement, “A network of 12,000 hydrogen stations in the United States would put 70 percent of the U.S. population within two miles of a fueling station. If the stations cost $2 million each (estimates for the cost of a station range from $1 million to $4 million) the network would cost about $24 billion.”

According to the U. S. Census there were 114,533 gasoline stations in the United States in 2012 (the most recent year calculated). By comparison there were 168,000 gas stations in the U. S. in 2004 so that number has been coming down. But no fuel cell vehicle company or advocate that I know of would like to replicate the gasoline refueling infrastructure in regard to hydrogen. Less is more in that regard.

The Best Idea?

The best idea in my humble opinion would be to use both models to the advantage of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle consumer. High mileage fuel cell vehicles using a minimal hydrogen fueling infrastructure may offer some growing pains at first. But, in the long run it will mean energy independence, cleaner air, a lower total investment in H2 infrastructure and lower costs at the pump.













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Top 15 Hydrogen Car Milestones of 2015

A review of the year 2015 has unveiled many key hydrogen car milestones. In fact, there were so many that I could not possibly fit them all into one blog post. So I’ve pared the list down to my top 15.

Top 15 Hydrogen Car Milestones of 2015

  1. Toyota Mirai (pictured above) rolled out for sale and lease at dealerships in the U. S. and UK
  2. Nissan changed course and committed to building a fuel cell vehicle
  3. Mercedes-Benz announced that 2017 GLC F-Cell is in the works
  4. 1st ever National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day was celebrated on October 8th, 2015
  5. Hyundai introduced hydrogen fuel cell self-driving R car
  6. Mercedes-Benz introduced F 015 concept driverless car
  7. Honda FCV Concept was officially debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show
  8. Renault Kangoo ZE with Symbio FCell was unveiled in France
  9. BMW i8 Hydrogen prototype was spotted taking laps on a track in July 2015
  10. BMW 5 Series GT was shown at the BMW Group Innovation Days 2015
  11. Toyota FCV Plus prototype was unveiled
  12. Taiwan rolled out the country’s first hydrogen fuel cell hybrid car
  13. The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell was introduced to Australia
  14. NanoFlowcell QUANTiNO concept was unveiled
  15. Lexus LF-FC was introduced at 44th Tokyo Motor Show

As previously stated, there were many more H2 milestones that could have been added to the list. What was your favorite milestone that isn’t mentioned on this list?


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2015 Toyota Fuel Cell to Cost 5-Percent of Other Model

According to Toyota, their 2015 model year hydrogen vehicle, which has not been unveiled yet, will have a fuel cell system that is 1/20th the cost of the one in their FCHV-adv model.

Toyota lists several reasons for being able to reduce the costs according to Nikkei Technology, “Toyota made the following efforts to lower the cost of the fuel cell system. It (1) eliminated a humidifying module, (2) reduced the number of tanks from four to two, (3) employed low-price, mass-produced parts such as a motor for hybrid vehicles, (4) simplified the system structure by reviewing the structures of a fuel cell stack, high-pressure hydrogen tank, etc,

“(5) reduced the size and improved the performance of the fuel cell stack by improving its output density by more than 100% to 3.0kW/L, (6) reduced the amount of platinum catalyst used in the fuel cell stack by more than 50%, (7) reduced the amount and cost of carbon fiber used for the high-pressure hydrogen tank and (8) improved manufacturing methods (high-speed handling of electrolyte film, automated cell stacking, high-speed fiber winding for the high-pressure tank, etc).”

Toyota has hinted that it expects the cost of their first mass-produced consumer model fuel cell vehicle to be in the range of $50,000 – $100,000 and that over time the price should come down below the $50,000 mark.


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Fuel Cells or Hydrogen Batteries – What’s In a Name

Bengt Halvorson of Green Car Reports published an article yesterday called, “Should Fuel Cells Have Been Called ‘Hydrogen Batteries’ Instead?” This article begs the question as to whether the name ‘hydrogen fuel cells’ is holding back the technology from being readily accepted by consumers.

One person who thinks so is former General Motors executive Larry Burns (and current University of Michigan professor). According to IEEE.org, Burns said, “If I could do one thing differently, I would never have uttered the word ‘fuel cell,’ I would have called it a hydrogen battery – just another battery! From the car’s standpoint, you’re driving on electricity, whether you’re taking it out of a battery or a fuel cell stack. You need similar power electronics; motors; it’s very quiet; there are no shift points.”

In Green Car Reports, Halvorson states, “Underscoring all of this is the issue of image, and Burns admits that the term makes the technology seem strange and suggests that as a reason it’s scared away investors. To speculate for the moment, ‘fuel cell’ might sound like it involves something dangerous and racing-related – or fossil-fuel-related – while batteries are now, to the vast majority, what we’re now used to in our smartphones, our tablets, and what we go to bed next to, safely.”

So, is a rose by any other name still a rose (paraphrasing Shakespeare)? Or would a new name for hydrogen fuel cells allow consumers to sleep well at night? You decide!


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Vision Industries Offers Fuel Cell Class 8 Trucks with IREx

Vision Industries out of Long Beach, California has introduced an Intelligent Range Extender (IREx) for its fuel cell class 8 trucks.

According to the press release, “Vision Industries Corporation today announced that it will introduce its newly developed ‘Intelligent Range Extender’ system in its next generation Class 8 trucks, originally designed for short-haul cargo transportation, which is commonly referred to as ‘Drayage.’

“Due to dramatically improved key components, Vision Industries is now able to build a Fuel Cell Electric Class 8 tractor that offers longer range, higher efficiency and lower weight at a competitive price to existing diesel and NG trucks. This system will widen the available applications for these trucks from short-haul drayage to regional trucking, all at reduced operating cost and always with a zero-emission footprint.”

Now, I’ve talked about Vision Industries quite a few times in the past. Their Tyrano plug-in hybrid fuel cell class 8 trucks have made headlines in the last couple of years especially at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Vision Industries also offers a Zero-TT plug-in hybrid fuel cell terminal tractor for ports and other transportation hubs.

The Vision Industries’ IREx system (see graphic at top of page) is interesting in that it integrates GPS, fleet management software and the Vehicle Control Unit in order to maximize fuel efficiency, time management and profitability on the fly. Optimized profiles are chosen automatically for any given situation a driver may encounter.


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Two SunLine Fuel Cell Buses Delivered in Palm Springs, CA

Two new SunLine buses powered by a Ballard FCvelocity®-HD6 fuel cell system were delivered recently in the Thousand Palms / Palm Springs area of California.

According to Ballard, “These new buses evolve the previously deployed American Fuel Cell Bus (AFCB) configuration, which was first introduced with SunLine Transit Agency in 2011. The AFCB configuration utilizes Ballard’s FCvelocity®-HD6 fuel cell module to provide primary power, in combination with BAE Systems’ HybriDrive® propulsion and power management systems deployed in an ElDorado National 40-foot (12-meter) Axess model, heavy duty transit bus …

“…These two additional buses will bring the total number of Ballard powered fuel cell buses at SunLine Transit Agency to four. In 2013 Ballard signed extended service agreements with SunLine Transit Agency that will support bus operation for up to ten years, demonstrating SunLine’s continued commitment to the operation of these buses …

“…Ballard’s 150 kilowatt power module features a control unit which interfaces with a system controller, making it a ‘plug-and-play’ product for any fuel cell or hybrid fuel cell bus platform. The module also offers significant advances in durability, power density and fuel efficiency compared to earlier generation products.”

And about 92 miles away in the Orange County area of California, Ballard will also have its fuel cell system inside a new hydrogen hybrid bus at University of California, Irvine. A delivery date sometime in 2015 is expected.






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Hyundai Picks Driver for First Mass Produced Fuel Cell Vehicle

Today, on June 10, 2014, Tustin Hyundai of southern California handed the keys to its first mass produced fuel cell vehicle (to hit U. S. shores) to Tim Bush and family (pictured at top) of Huntington Beach. Mr. Bush is a State Farm insurance agent in Newport Beach, California. I had a chance to speak with Mr. Bush at the event.

The Bush family will be leasing the Hyundai ix35 Tucson CUV for $499 month for the next 3 years and this includes free fill-ups of compressed hydrogen gas. Mr. Bush expects most of his refueling to be conducted at the hydrogen station in Newport Beach.

Mr. Bush told me, “I’ve never driven a fuel cell vehicle before, so today will be the first time.” He also said of the event, “I did not expect this many people.”

When asked which of the 6 Tucson fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) he would be driving away from the event, he joked, “My keys work on all of them.” Mr. Bush stated that up to this point he had never owned an electric vehicle or other alternative fuel vehicle, just a standard gasoline vehicle.

I counted six iBlue Tucson FCVs parked at Tustin Hyundai for the event. Four of the vehicles had California license plates and the number 17000 on them. One vehicle had Michigan plates with the license plate number 044 m 662. And, when I was taking photos, one FCV did not yet have plates and was the one featured near the balloons, presumably the one that the Bush family was driving home.

Besides the news media, others at the event included, Dave Zuchowski, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, Catherine Dunwoody, executive director from the California Fuel Cell Partnership, John Patterson, the Tucson Hyundai dealer who handed the keys to Tim Bush, Richard Corey, executive officer from the California Air Resources Board and Janea Scott from the California Energy Commission.

You can find more of the pictures (in addition to this page) that I took today at the bottom of the Hyundai ix35 Tucson page.


Official Hyundai Press Release



Row of ix35 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicles


Close-up of Hydrogen EV emblem on a Tucson FCEV


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