A new player has arrived on the car manufacturing scene in Australia and hopes to fill a unique gap in the market — hydrogen car production.
H2X launched Monday morning, promising to provide Australians with cars that utilise the country’s renewable energy hubs as well as renewable materials.
Hydrogen cars differ from electric vehicles in that the propulsion is the result of an electro-chemical reaction. They have a fuel tank but instead of filling it with petrol, it's filled with hydrogen gas. When the gas is mixed with oxygen using a fuel cell, it creates electricity moving the car forward. The best part about it all is the only thing it emits from this process are water vapours unlike dirty fuels such as petrol.
H2X's CEO Brendan Norman, who has previously worked at BMW, Audi and Volkswagen, said it was looking to offer 5,000 jobs in technology and production over the next five years out of its Port Kembla hub in Wollongong.
"Today we launch our company which not only demonstrates the advanced technology and engineering capabilities of Australia in the clean energy arena but also provides a real clean alternative in terms of transportation," Norman said in a company announcement.
"With the development of many Green Energy projects in Australia at the moment, we have a unique opportunity to bring a significant manufacturing operation back to the country."
Its first project is a hydrogen-powered SUV — the Snowy, named after Australia's hydro scheme — that comes with a 60 kilowatt fuel cell and an overall power output of 190 kilowatts. It expects a prototype will be ready by November with hopes it will go into commercial production by 2022 or 2023. By 2025, the manufacturer plans to be producing as many as 25,000 cars a year in order to compete with the bigger players.
The Snowy SUV could be on roads within two years but hydrogen refilling stations are a must
While it means we could see the Snowy on our roads within a few years, it's all dependent on the availability of hydrogen filling stations. Petrol stations are abundant around Australia but alternative fuel sources — like hydrogen — can be trickier to come by. It's a criticism some have had over electric vehicles, which can use standard electrical ports but need to be in easy to reach areas. If hydrogen filling stations remain in city hubs, it means owners might struggle with taking the cars away from a guaranteed fuel supply.
Hydrogen-powered vehicles aren't yet a reality for Australians but two others are potentially considering an entry. The Toyota Mirai has not yet confirmed whether the vehicle will be sold in the country, though rumours suggest it's being considered. Hyundai's Nexo was also certified for release in Australia late last year. That means we could see it on roads as early as this year.
With local companies investing in technology to better understand how to make it a reality, the future of green car production in Australia is a little brighter than before.