8 Vehicle Manufacturers Working on Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

Hydrogen’s Promising Impact on Local Communities /
8 Vehicle Manufacturers Working on Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

We’ve come a long way since the early days of the automobile. From 18th-century steam-powered behemoths to gas-guzzling modern supercars, vehicles and their fuel sources have progressed throughout history. Recently, another shift has begun. Now, vehicle manufacturers are using hydrogen fuel cells to propel personal transportation forward.

Admittedly, the idea of a hydrogen-powered car is nothing new. More than 200 years ago, the first internal combustion engine ran on hydrogen and oxygen. But these new models are different. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are ultra-efficient, converting pure hydrogen gas into electricity without producing any harmful tailpipe emissions.

Did you know about 15,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles are on U.S. roads right now, all in California? This carbon emission-free technology has caught the attention of some of the auto industry’s biggest players. In this article, we’ll look at some hydrogen car companies betting on hydrogen to drive sustainable mobility forward.

Toyota

Believe it or not, Toyota has been working on fuel cell vehicles since 1992. Toyota has been steadfast in developing fuel-cell vehicles—long before many of its counterparts even considered the idea. The Toyota Mirai was among the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cars to hit the road in 2014.

Its introduction was a major milestone in automotive and sustainability history. As one of the world's first mass-produced fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), the Mirai showcased hydrogen cell vehicles’ potential. With a 312-mile driving range, the Mirai demonstrated that zero-emission driving was not a pipe dream but a reality.

In 2022, Toyota sold 2,094 Mirai, a 20% YOY increase over 2021. This sales growth proves a growing appetite for cleaner vehicles, especially as hydrogen infrastructure progresses.

Check out our Servco Hawaii case study featuring the Toyota Mirai.

And Toyota hasn’t stopped there. According to CNBC: “Alongside the Mirai, Toyota has had a hand in developing larger hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These include a bus called the Sora and prototypes of heavy-duty trucks. Alongside fuel cells, Toyota is looking at using hydrogen in internal combustion engines.”

Toyota Hilux

In December 2022, Toyota announced its plans to develop a hydrogen fuel cell version of its best-selling Hilux pickup. Only a little is currently known about the new Hilux FCEV. However, with funding from the UK government and support from various industry leaders, the truck is destined for success. The hydrogen-powered Hilux will be ready for small-scale production if all goes well with prototyping.

Additionally, Toyota announced plans to produce hydrogen fuel-cell modules to replace heavy-duty diesel engines in Class 8 semi-trucks starting this year.

Toyota Yaris H2

Toyota introduced the GR Yaris H2, an advanced hydrogen-powered concept car, in December 2021. Unlike the Mirai, which converts hydrogen fuel into electricity, the GR Yaris H2 uses hydrogen as a combustible fuel, offering a traditional combustion engine experience.

It features a modified turbocharged three-cylinder engine from the standard GR Yaris, and is expected to generate around 268 horsepower. While official figures are not yet available, industry experts believe it could match or even surpass the performance of the acclaimed GR Yaris. Although still in early development, the prospect of a hydrogen combustion vehicle from Toyota is exciting.

Toyota’s Commercial FCEVs

Along with the Mirai and the new Hilux, Toyota has also been working on hydrogen buses and heavy-duty trucks. If larger transport vehicles transition to hydrogen alongside commuter cars, we might reach our zero-emissions goals even faster.

BMW

BMW has been in the hydrogen vehicle game for some time, with past projects including the i Hydrogen NEXT concept car and the 1 Series Fuel-cell hybrid electric. But in 2021, the German auto manufacturer announced its next focus: An all-hydrogen version of the BMW X5.

The BMW iX5 Hydrogen pilot fleet is now on the roads for trial and demonstration. The iX5 Hydrogen represents a significant milestone in the company's pursuit of eco-friendly transportation, integrating advanced technologies to deliver efficient and emissions-free driving. By leveraging the power of hydrogen, BMW aims to address the challenges associated with electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and range limitations.

Specifications include:

  • 401 horsepower
  • Maximum speed: 118 mph
  • Estimated driving range: 504 miles

We’re excited to learn more and see the iX5 Hydrogen in action when BMW finally deems it road-ready.

Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Company threw its hat in the hydrogen ring with the first fuel cell-powered SUV. In 2018, the South Korean vehicle manufacturer unveiled the NEXO Fuel Cell. Now in its fifth year of production, the Hyundai NEXO has helped eliminate more than 14 million miles of vehicle emissions.

NEXO’s specifications include:

  • Driving range: 380 miles
  • Combined MPGe: 61
  • Maximum speed: 111 mph
  • Hydrogen tank capacity: 41.4 gal
  • Lithium-ion battery capacity: 1.56 kWh

Hyundai plans to reveal significant enhancements for the 2024 Nexo. These changes are expected to include improved efficiency, thanks to implementing a third-generation fuel cell stack and an impressive range of nearly 500 miles.

Additionally, the 2024 Hyundai Nexo will likely showcase advanced safety and driver assistance features, enhanced interior design, and technological advancements.

Hyundai N Vision 74

The Hyundai N Vision 74 is a hydrogen hybrid concept that pays homage to the 1974 Pony Coupe Concept. The hybrid powertrain combines a lithium-ion battery and hydrogen fuel cell, delivering impressive acceleration. It's a futuristic marvel that will turn heads and attract buyers.

  • Driving range: 372 miles
  • 670 horsepower (combined)
  • 800-Volt fast charging in just five minutes
  • Maximum speed: 155 mph

Hyundai’s Commercial FCEV

While hydrogen fuel cell technology can transform personal transportation, it also has commercial potential. In 2020, Hyundai released the XCIENT Fuel Cell—an achievement it calls “the world’s first mass-produced heavy-duty fuel cell truck line.”

The XCIENT is a zero-emissions cargo vehicle with more than 400 km of driving range. Already on the road in Switzerland, it’ll likely transform the overland shipping industry as it reaches more locations.

Honda

Honda is no stranger to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Between 2017 and 2021, the Japanese motor company sold a hydrogen-powered version of its Clarity model before discontinuing it due to lackluster sales.

However, in November of 2022, Honda announced plans for its electrification push, which included US-oriented hydrogen fuel cell cars. The automaker plans to begin producing fuel cell vehicles in the states starting in 2024 with a plug-in hybrid CR-V.

At the time of writing, details on the zero-emissions CR-V—set to be released in 2024—are relatively slim. However, here’s what we do know:

  • Plug-in charging meets hydrogen fuel cell technology – Honda has announced that the CR-V will be the first FCEV in the North American market to incorporate a plug-in capability for electric vehicle (EV) driving. This will enable motorists to fuel up at home and on the go—without worrying about the current lack of hydrogen refueling stations.
  • A familiar look – Aside from different badges and trim options, the new CR-V is expected to resemble the standard version.
  • Domestic production – The hydrogen-powered CR-V will be produced at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, OH.

Next year will tell how Honda plays a hand in advancing hydrogen energy technology—and how it scales alongside its competitors.

Want to learn more about alternative fuels? Read Understanding Hydrogen, CNG, LNG, RNG, and Propane

In Development

Here are a few other FCEVs to keep on your radar, currently in development.

Riversimple Rasa

The Rasa is a concept car that can travel 300 miles with just 1.5 kg of hydrogen, surpassing the average hydrogen car range. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds and features a unique ultracapacitor system for improved energy storage.

After debuting in 2016, it will finally enter production in 2023 to manufacture 5,000 units per year. Even King Charles III of the UK test-drove it! The Rasa presents an exciting and practical solution for hydrogen-powered personal transportation.

Land Rover Defender FCEV

Jaguar Land Rover aims for zero tailpipe emissions by 2036. This initiative focuses on creating a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on the Land Rover Defender SUV.

While specific range and power details are undisclosed, the vehicle features electric drive units, a fuel cell stack, a large battery for energy recuperation, and a high-pressure hydrogen tank. The Land Rover Defender FCEV's public availability timeline remains to be determined, but its potential is promising.

NamX HUV

The NamX HUV, a hydrogen concept car from Pininfarina, aims to revolutionize driving. It features a permanent H2 tank and a removable setup of six capsules, which could greatly boost the adoption of hydrogen vehicles. NamX plans to offer home capsule delivery and establish new hydrogen capsule refueling stations to address refueling concerns.

Development is scheduled to start in 2023, with a release expected by the end of 2025, priced between $80,000 and $100,000. The NamX HUV possesses unique features that could disrupt the market and usher in a new era of hydrogen vehicles.

Hyperion XP-1

Hyperion Motors, an American manufacturer based in Columbus, Ohio, created a remarkable hydrogen-powered car called the Hyperion XP-1. This hypercar made headlines upon its unveiling in August 2020.

It boasts advanced technology, featuring a cutting-edge hydrogen powerhouse engine module with storage technology derived from NASA. The Hyperion XP-1 offers an astonishing range of over 1,000 miles and produces a staggering total power output of over 2,000 horsepower.

FASTECH: Powering the Newest Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

In our collective quest to eliminate harmful carbon emissions, hydrogen-powered vehicles represent an exciting opportunity. These pioneering companies see the potential of alternative fuel. And, as these FCEVs gain traction with motorists, more hydrogen car makers will likely follow suit.

However, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are nothing without the hydrogen gas that powers them. Therefore, drivers need access to a network of affordable hydrogen filling stations. That’s where the second part of this transition away from gasoline comes in: Hydrogen infrastructure.

At FASTECH, we’re working on it. To date, we’ve helped bring over 35 hydrogen refueling stations into existence, and we’re always planning, designing, and building more. From consulting and compliance to construction and maintenance, we’re involved in every aspect of the world’s transition to hydrogen.

Interested in joining forces? Contact us to find out more about our end-to-end hydrogen solutions.

Read This Next