French hydrogen carmakers NamX and Hopium take different paths

French carmakers hydrogen
French hydrogen carmakers NamX and Hopium take different paths

Previously aligned on building a fuel cell car, which they were planning for 2025, the two start-ups have taken different paths. One is now focusing on the internal combustion engine (ICE), while the other is staking its survival on the fuel cell.

Our first article on Hopium dates from 1 October 2020 (in French). Olivier Lombard, whom we met as a development driver for MissionH24, explained at the time that he was “convinced that hydrogen is the energy of the future,” and pointed out that “there is no beautiful, powerful and comfortable car with this type of engine.” The rest is history. Hopium was compared to a French Tesla and got good press, right up until the 2022 Paris Motor Show. It unveiled its prototype and announced a memorandum of understanding for a provisional order of 10,000 vehicles. And then the beginning of 2023 turned into a nightmare (which seems paradoxical knowing Hopium means “the hydrogen dream”). Between financial losses and changes in governance, there’s nothing left of the original project.

French carmaker Hopium goes all-in on the fuel cell

Hopium is fighting for its survival and is banking on its fuel cell, whose technology is deemed to be genuinely effective by the players who have been there to see for themselves. Hydrogen Today spoke to the engineers (watch the interview). At any rate, the next few months will be decisive in convincing investors and partners. Hopium is hoping to use its fuel cell in heavy vehicles, boats and even aircraft.

We first mention NamX (new automotive and mobility exploration) on 11 May 2022. At the time, a preview of the project was unveiled at Pininfarina (read our article in French). Its co-founder, Faouzi Annajah, lifted the veil on the HUV: a hydrogen-powered SUV, which was to be available in two versions (a rear-wheel drive version with 300 hp and a four-wheel drive version with 550 hp).

A combustion engine and still some cartridges

Like Hopium, the young manufacturer made a notable appearance at the Paris Motor Show, where its hydrogen cartridge concept generated a great deal of curiosity. The start-up then kept quiet before exhibiting at Global Industrie in Lyon. The brand has the support of the King of Morocco, who wants to develop the automotive industry in his country. Hydrogen is also a national issue.

Namx is now opening a new chapter with a hydrogen combustion engine. You can find out more in this video. With a V8, designed by Solution F (GCK Group), the manufacturer is changing dimension. And it is opening up a debate in the process. Should the H2 engine be seen as a threat to the fuel cell, or simply as a transitional solution?

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King 

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About the author

Logan King

Logan King

After an unusual career (3 years in the French army followed by a 3-year degree in Applied Foreign Languages), it was my passion for environmental issues that finally caught up with me and led me to join Seiya Consulting and H2 Today in June 2022. First as an end-of-study internship, then as Marketing & Communication Manager and translator at Hydrogen Today.

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