H2ME: The era of hydrogen mobility pioneers

H2ME hydrogen mobility
H2ME: The era of hydrogen mobility pioneers

Through two series of projects, between 2015 and 2023, Europe managed to deploy the first stations and help manufacturers test their vehicles. Here’s a quick flashback before looking at the challenges ahead.

Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) was a flagship project initiated by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership (formerly called FCHJU: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking), with support from the European Commission (via the Horizon 2020 research programme), Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research, for a total budget of €170 million, of which €67 million provided by Europe. The project has resulted in the deployment of 1,400 vehicles (cars and commercial vehicles) and 49 filling stations in 9 countries.

Fleets deployed on a large scale

This programme was launched at a time when it was thought that the automotive industry would be the first market for hydrogen. This is why the list of partners includes players such as Audi, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes, Nissan, Renault and Toyota. The vehicles were hydrogen-powered cars (Honda Clarity, Hyundai ix35/Tucson and Nexo, Mercedes B-Class and GLC, Toyota Mirai) and commercial vehicles with fuel cells in the form of range extenders (the famous Kangoo H2 with Symbio fuel cells). H2ME has made it possible for these vehicles to cover more than 25 million km, demonstrating their reliability and the relevance of their uses.

The project has also led to the launch of a network of stations across Europe (265 according to the H2stations.org website). The players (Air Liquide, Engie, McPhy, etc.) have been able to make their equipment more reliable. Overall, there have been almost 150,000 refuellings, representing a volume of almost 400 tonnes.

Mobility shifting towards commercial and heavy goods vehicles

Hype and Hysetco, partners in this project, share the largest fleet of hydrogen taxis in the world. The taxi application was documented through the ZEFER project, which monitored the vehicles deployed across Europe and analysed the data. As for manufacturers, Hyundai and Toyota are still on the market. BMW is laying the groundwork with its ix5 Hydrogen, which could eventually lead to a production model. In the meantime, Renault has decided to create Hyvia with Plug, and Stellantis has also launched its hydrogen business. Both are aiming to dominate the LCV market.

While usage patterns have shifted, with the need for more heavy-duty mobility, the problem remains that of fuelling infrastructure. According to H2ME, at least 100 stations are needed in each country. Under the AFIR directive, hydrogen refuelling stations will have to be deployed every 200 km and in urban hubs starting in 2030. Member countries must submit a plan by 2027.

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Mariem Ben Tili

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About the author

Laurent Meillaud

Laurent Meillaud

Freelance automotive journalist and consultant, author as well, focused on technologies and new trends for more than 30 years, convinced that hydrogen is one of the energies for the future.

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