Fuel cell LCVs with rechargeable batteries: Stellantis follows through
While Mercedes-Benz is not developing the GLC F-Cell further, Stellantis does see potential in the concept of the fuel cell vehicle that not only can run on hydrogen but can also be charged externally with electricity. The application is strictly 'utilitarian', though.
Batteries limit the payload of light commercial vehicles, they offer a limited driving range and they cause long downtimes when they need to be charged. These are stumbling blocks you can overcome with a fuel cell. An FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle can be filled with hydrogen in a matter of minutes and offers much greater range but faces its own big hurdle: the fact that there are few hydrogen stations at the moment.
Stellantis' conclusion: what the world needs is a van that offers the ideal compromise between the two. And so they went to work. The platform that Stellantis is developing is a kind of hybrid setup. The vehicle can draw its (emission-free) energy from two sources: the hydrogen that the fuel cell converts into electricity on the go, and the batteries that can be charged at a wallbox or charging point, just like a classic electric van. This ensures maximum flexibility and usability.
Vivaro, Jumpy, Expert plug-in FCEV
The new Opel Vivaro, Citroën Jumpy and Peugeot Expert are the first to introduce this new drive concept. As "plug-in fuel cell vehicles" they can store 4.4kg of hydrogen to feed a fuel cell that delivers 45 kW of power, while also carrying a 10.5kWh battery. The driving range on hydrogen would be over 400 kilometres and refuelling should not take longer than three minutes. The battery can extend the driving range by 50 kilometres and has the advantage that it can also be recharged by regenerative braking.
The fuel cell system is being developed at the Centre of Competence Hydrogen & Fuel Cells in Rüsselsheim - at Opel. Assembly will also take place there. A strategic partnership has been established with Faurecia and Symbio. The plug-in fuel cell versions of the Opel Vivaro, Citroën Jumpy and Peugeot Expert should be ready for production by the end of this year.
Renault is also working on a similar solution, but for its largest van model, the Master.
Photo credit: Stellantis, 2021