jaguar land rover hydrogen vehicle

Jaguar Land Rover unveils prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle

Image credit: jaguar land rover

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) based on its Land Rover Defender, the automaker has announced.

With testing scheduled to begin this year, the concept vehicle is part of the firm's plan to achieve zero tailpipe emissions by 2036, and net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039.

In February, JLR said it would stop building cars with internal combustion engines by 2025 matching similar commitments by other players in the sector like Ford and General Motors.

JLR said its new FCEVs, which generate electricity from hydrogen to power an electric motor, will be built alongside “battery electric vehicles” rather than instead of.

Hydrogen-powered FCEVs provide high energy density, rapid refuelling, and minimal loss of range in low temperatures, making the technology ideal for larger, longer-range vehicles, or those operated in hot or cold environments.

jaguar land rover hydrogen vehicle

Image credit: jaguar land rover

Since 2018, the global number of FCEVs on the road has nearly doubled while hydrogen refuelling stations have increased by more than 20 per cent - though in the UK there are only a handful open to the public. By 2030, some forecasts predict hydrogen-powered FCEV deployment could top 10 million with 10,000 refuelling stations worldwide.

To deliver the project, JLR has teamed up with R&D partners, including Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) to research, develop and create the prototype FCEV.

“We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles,” said Ralph Clague, head of hydrogen and fuel cells at JLR.

“The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicle.”

While rival manufacturers Toyota and Hyundai already have hydrogen vehicles on sale, other firms have largely ignored the technology in favour of focusing on electric cars instead.

Jim Holder, editorial director of magazine and website What Car?, said the announcement was “a very significant moment” for the automotive industry as the Land Rover brand is “synonymous” with SUVs, which have been criticised for their impact on the environment.

He told the PA news agency: “To thrive into the future Land Rover needs to demonstrate technical leadership, especially around electrification, and to that end a prototype vehicle to gather data on the viability of zero emission hydrogen fuel cell technology is extremely positive news for the company and its customers.

“Hydrogen is quick to fuel, taking just minutes to put enough in a tank for 300 miles of driving, and – some experts argue – a better long-term environmental solution than battery-powered electric cars.

“Test beds like Land Rover’s are a significant step in investigating its potential.”

The UK is currently planning to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 as part of efforts to lower the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

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