Hype to roll out fleet of 600 hydrogen taxis in Paris
Hype expands its fleet of 100 (Hyundai) hydrogen taxis in Paris on Friday, with 500 Toyota Mirai by the end of next year. That’s the first goal of HysetCo, a joint-venture set up by taxi company STEP (Hype), Toyota France, French hydrogen specialist Air Liquide and French energy provider Idex. A complete ‘zero-emission’ taxi sector by 2024 with the Olympic Games is the ultimate dream.
HysetCo will not only manage a fleet of 600 taxis, but also provide hydrogen fueling stations. Today there are four in the Paris region. That number will triple to a dozen by next year to ‘feed’ the Hype fleet. From 2021 the offer of hydrogen taxis will be opened up to other taxi operators that can lease the vehicles.
Mirai costing 80.000 euro
The consortium will invest several hundreds of millions. A hydrogen station like the recently opened, close to the Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport, costs on average 2 million euro. The Mirai, to be delivered by Toyota has a price tag of 80.000 euro. In 2021 Toyota will present the second generation of the Mirai. By then prices are expected to drop.
Vast majority of the Toyota Mirai cars are driving in Japan (2.400) and California (3.000) today. In Europe fewer than 1.600 hydrogen cars, all brands together, were driving around at the end of previous year.
200.000 fuel cell cars by 2025
Japan wants to be one of the forerunners in the domain of hydrogen. It wants to see the total hydrogen car fleet grow to more than 200.000 by 2025. The number of hydrogen fueling stations is to grow from 101 today to 320 in seven years.
Japan, however, already has 250.000 homes powered by fuel cells and hydrogen won from city gas. By 2030 it wants to expand this to 5,3 million homes.
Only 3.500 each year
Today Toyota can only build 3.000 to 3.500 Mirai a year. Toyota reserves 500 of them for the Hype taxis in this and the following year. Production capacity might seem low for a giant as Toyota.
The other major players, however, that commercialize hydrogen cars today, Honda and South Korean Hyundai-Kia, produce no more annually.
Hyundai already launched a hydrogen version of its ix35 in 2014 on the European market. Today it proposes a portfolio of 12 models of electric vehicles with the next generation hydrogen car (Nexo), full battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids.
In December the Korean group announced its ‘FCEV Vision 2030’. It wants to push up production to 700.000 fuel cells a year and 500.000 hydrogen vehicles by 2030.
Suited to replace diesel
Hydrogen is especially suited to replace diesel in the long term for heavy transport. Not only on the road, but also for replacing diesel trains and ship engines. As French train builder Alstom proves already in Germany.
The world’s first commercial hydrogen train started its daily round in September 2018 in Lower Saxony on the 100 km line from Cuxhaven to Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude.
In November Alstom has presented a ‘French version’ of its Coradia hydrogen train. It wants to propose them to the SNCF as alternative for the current fleet of 450 to 500 regional diesel trains to be replaced in the next ten years.
According to ProRail, the Dutch rail infrastructure manager, the first practical trial will run this year on the Leeuwarden-Groningen line in the Netherlands.
Miracle molecule or fata morgana?
Not everybody cheers this new ‘hydrogen society’, though. Is hydrogen (H2) the miracle molecule that will allow humanity to succeed in its ecological transition or is it just a fata morgana? Pro and contra protagonists face each other with knives drawn, as French newspaper Le Monde wrote in June last year.
The French IFP research institute (with ties to the petrol industry) calculated that a carbon tax of 300 euro per ton would be needed on fossil fuels to make hydrogen competitive, regardless of the technical evolution in more efficient electrolysis.
“It looks like hydrogen always will be more expensive”, Air Liquide’s Vice-President Hydrogen, Pierre-Etienne Franc, said last year. “But its the price we have to pay for decarbonization.”
Air Liquide still believes hydrogen being one of the keys to reduce pollution in the cities. “But it takes all players (energy producers, distributors and mobility providers) to work together to make it happen”, Franc states in today’s joint press release of the new joint venture. And that’s exactly what HysetCo is going to do, he adds.