Cars of tomorrow arrive today

By Jonny Wing
  • Fuel cell vehicles represent ultimate in zero-emission motoring
  • Public invited to drive the cars

A fleet of seven hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) will be touring the UK this week as part of a European road tour raising awareness for the technology. The tour includes vehicles from Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, and has spent the last week at the prestigious Paris Motor Show.

Having made their way to the UK, the cars will first visit Cardiff, followed by Bristol, Swindon and finally London. The public will be invited to test drive the cars and quiz the automakers. FCEV are similar to battery cars but have much longer ranges, similar to those of conventional cars, and are fuelled by hydrogen within a few minutes rather than charging for many hours. This makes them an attractive zero-emission replacement for the conventional car.

“Fuel cells are electrochemical devices which produce electricity and heat using a hydrogen-rich fuel,” explains Dr Dan Carter, Manager of information resource Fuel Cell Today; “In light duty vehicles fuel cells using renewably-produced hydrogen provide the ultimate in zero-emission mobility.”

Most of the world’s major automakers have committed to commercialise FCEV from 2015 with Europe seen as a key early market. “Hyundai is proud to be playing an integral role in the European Hydrogen Road Tour 2012,” comments Steve Hicks, UK Sales & Operations Manager for Hyundai; “The Hyundai ix35 FCEV clearly demonstrates not only our commitment to producing hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, but also the benefits of FCEV.”

These vehicles represent an opportunity for high-value manufacture in the UK and the tour will be visiting fuel cell component manufacturer Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells on Thursday. “We’ve really enjoyed seeing fuel cell technology in action with the fuel cell electric vehicles [on the tour]”, said Dr Jack Frost, Director of the business; “The products we manufacture here in Swindon embody the key and enabling technologies for fuel cells.”

The vehicles will be spending the day at City Hall on Friday and a public ride and drive will take place at Concert Hall Approach on the South Bank on Saturday for those eager to get behind the wheel.