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First Hydrogen will host its inaugural track day event aimed at major UK fleet managers. The unique event will serve as a platform to unveil First Hydrogen's hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) and will take place at the HORIBA MIRA track near Coventry, UK.

Scheduled for the end of October, the event will see participation from approximately 20 UK fleet operators, collectively overseeing more than a quarter of a million fleet vehicles. First Hydrogen aims to provide an exclusive opportunity for attendees to test drive the company's hydrogen-powered light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on the track. The 3.5-tonne large van, a first of their kind, will be available for hands-on experience, accompanied by technical presentations and an in-depth vehicle walkaround to showcase the advanced technology beneath the hood.

First Hydrogen has already garnered attention by conducting road trials with notable entities such as fleet management company Rivus and energy giant SSE. The fuel cell electric vans are currently engaged in operations with major parcel delivery companies. With over 15 major fleet operators eagerly awaiting their turn to trial these vehicles, the track day event at HORIBA MIRA offers a consolidated opportunity to showcase the capabilities of First Hydrogen's vehicles to a diverse range of organizations in a single day.

The event is strategically designed to demonstrate key features, including an impressive range exceeding 630km (400 miles) on a single refueling, ease of driving, and the efficient powertrain technology enabling the vehicles to carry substantial payloads without compromising range, regardless of weather conditions.

Anticipating widespread interest, the invitation-only event targets major UK LCV fleet operators, including members of the UK Aggregated Hydrogen Freight Consortium (AHFC). The AHFC, led by Element Energy with collaboration from global industrial members of UK H2Mobility, is dedicated to expediting the commercial deployment of FCEVs and hydrogen refueling infrastructure to decarbonise high-mileage and heavy-duty van and truck fleets.

First Hydrogen is set to launch fleet trials for its hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered vehicle (FCEV) in response to mounting interest from parcel delivery companies.

Following successful preliminary fleet tests amongst UK operators, the company's proof-of-concept demonstration vehicles are will undergo evalutaions with several parcel delivery firms in the latter part of Q3 and throughout Q4 of this year.

Previously, First Hydrogen predominantly catered to sectors like utilities, necessitating emission-free vehicles capable of extended travel distances and heavier loads. The current challenges confronting parcel delivery firms have prompted them to explore alternative zero-emission technologies. Although parcel couriers typically do shorter journies, from local hubs to end users, they are progressively undertaking longer routes from distribution centers to collection lockers and stores. The need for adaptable emission-reducing solutions is therfore becoming more necessary.

First Hydrogen's engineers emphasise that while these vehicles are engineered for long-haul journeys, they have been outfitted with hybrid engines (hydrogen fuel cell and battery), optimised for shorter urban routes. The incorporation of regenerative braking also assists in recharging the battery, especially during stop-and-start journeys.

An additional advantage is the rapid hydrogen refueling, which significantly reduces vehicle downtime compared to electric vans. Refueling First Hydrogen's light commercial vehicles takes around 5 minutes. Hydrogen vans can therefore have extended daily operational cycles, enabling vehicles to remain on the road for longer.

Steve Gill, CEO of First Hydrogen Automotive, said: "The mounting pressure to reduce carbon footprint, coupled with the emergence of low and zero-emission zones in urban areas and the phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles, positions hydrogen mobility as a pragmatic solution for the challenges confronting last-mile delivery operators. Fleet managers are recognizing that relying solely on battery electric vehicles (BEV) may not suffice to meet the reliability and operational adaptability needed to meet customer demands. Future fleets should integrate both BEV and FCEV to surmount these hurdles and achieve net-zero targets. The expansive and expanding parcel delivery sector is in dire need of environmentally sustainable and economically viable fleets, and our hydrogen-powered light commercial vehicles hold the potential to fulfill this demand. This presents us with an exciting prospect to tap into a new customer base, further expediting business expansion and potentially expediting our vehicle's market entry."

Ford is leading a research project to investigate the potential for a hydrogen E-Transit as an onboard energy source for its Ford E-Transit van, with the aim of establishing whether fuel cell technology can provide greater zero-emission range to heavy-use customers who travel high mileages with maximum loads, ancillary equipment such as chillers, and limited charging opportunities in their working shift.

The project is part-funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) and involves a consortium of six automotive technology leader and fleet operator partners who will help to determine the supporting hydrogen refuelling infrastructure required.

The project will also expand Ford Pro's conversion expertise, with engineers and E-Transit specialists from Dagenham and the company's nearby Dunton Technical Centre in Essex providing support. The project will validate the vehicle's business case by linking Ford's expertise as a 57-year UK van market leader with fuel cell powertrain experts and fleet operators including Ocado Retail.

Other partners on the project are bp, capturing hydrogen usage and infrastructure requirements; Cambustion, testing the fuel cell system; Viritech, designing hydrogen storage systems; and Cygnet Texkimp, providing the pressure vessels’ carbon fibre tooling.

Tim Slatter, chair of Ford in Britain, said: “Ford believes that the primary application of fuel cells could be in its largest, heaviest CVs to ensure they are emission-free, while satisfying the high daily energy requirements our customers demand.

“Ford has an unmatched history in the commercial vehicle sector with the indomitable Transit, and we are excited to be exploring new ways to make clean deliveries an option for even our hardest working vans on the road.”  

A low-volume test fleet of eight hydrogen fuel cell Ford E-Transit vans will run for six-month periods over the three-year project to 2025. Test fleet data will provide insights into the total cost of owning and operating a large van, with increased range and operating hours to match its diesel-powered equivalent and without the need to charge.

The prototype Ford E-Transits will be fitted with a high-power fuel cell stack, in conjunction with significant hydrogen storage capability, optimised for safety, capacity, cost, and weight. An important project element will evaluate efficient and viable recycling for end-of-life components

A brand new hydrogen-powered van from Vauxhall will make its debut at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham. The Vauxhall Vivaro-e Hydrogen is currently only earmarked for left-hand-drive markets by the end of this year, however, UK customer will be able to get one, eventually.

The hydrogen Vivaro will reach the UK in right-hand-drive in early 2023.

It has a hydrogen fuel cell system located in the van's engine bay that is said to give it a range of 249 miles. Refuelling the Vauxhall Vivaro-e Hydrogen will take as little as three minutes.

One of the main highlights of the hydrogen Vivaro is that it will still have the same storage capacity as the regular van with a load volume of up to 6.1m3.

There's no word on price yet, and Vauxhall says it is speaking to corporate fleets ahead of its UK launch - that will probably mean that it will be expensive, but 2023 is still a long way off.

Read our Vauxhall Van Reviews

Also revealed to the public for the first time at a motor show were the two new all-electric vans in the Vauxhall range.

The small electric van Vauxhall Combo-e was joined by the Vauxhall Movano-e large electric van.

Read our Vauxhall Vivaro-e Hydrogen review

The show is the first opportunity to see the new models in the metal as Vauxhall makes steps to electrify its entire range, an accomplishment it has now achieved with its commercial vehicle range, and hopes to follow the huge success of the Vauxhall Vivaro-e launched in 2020.

The large Movano-e has a load volume of up to 17m3 and has a claimed range of up to 139 miles, while the small Combo-e has a volume of 4.4 m3 with a range of 171 miles from a 50kWh battery pack.

Also on display was a Vauxhall Vivaro-e Platform Cab Concept, built in collaboration with Paneltex the concept targets supermarkets and retailers who are looking at home delivery in urban areas.

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