Renault says the electric hydrogen concept has a range of 497 miles

Details of Renault’s Scénic Vision concept car were presented to the public on May 19, 2022. The company’s idea of ​​developing a passenger car using hydrogen technology is not unique.

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Renault has released details of an electric-hydrogen hybrid concept car, with the French carmaker describing hydrogen technology as “one of the options to make electric vehicles more convenient”.

The design for Renault’s Scenic Vision includes a hydrogen engine, electric motor, battery, fuel cell and a hydrogen tank. The 2.5 kilogram tank is located at the front of the vehicle and, according to Renault, would take about five minutes to fill.

According to a document outlining the concept published Thursday, the Scenic Vision’s 40-kilowatt-hour battery is recyclable and will be manufactured at a factory in France by 2024.

In a statement, Gilles Vidal, Renault design director, said the concept “hares the exterior design of the new Scénic 100% electric model for 2024.” The company said the hydrogen electric powertrain is “part of a long-term vision, beyond 2030”.

The general idea is that the Scenic Vision’s hydrogen fuel cell would help increase the vehicle’s range on longer journeys. “In 2030 and beyond, if the network of hydrogen stations is large enough, you can drive up to 800 km” [a little over 497 miles] … without stopping to recharge the battery,” said Renault.

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Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier”, hydrogen has a wide range of applications and can be deployed in a wide variety of industries.

It can be produced in different ways. One method involves the use of electrolysis, in which an electric current splits water into oxygen and hydrogen.

If the electricity used in this process comes from a renewable source such as wind or solar, some call it green or renewable hydrogen.

It is envisioned that Renault’s hybrid would use green hydrogen, although the vast majority of hydrogen production is currently based on fossil fuels.

Renault’s electric-hydrogen concept illustrates how carmakers are looking for ways to develop low- and zero-emission vehicles that can compete with the range of petrol and diesel vehicles.

“Research is currently underway on various systems to complement electric motors to meet the demands of long-distance driving,” said Renault. “Hydrogen technology is one of the options to make electric driving more convenient.”

In the field of hydrogen mobility, the Renault Group has already set up a joint venture with Plug Power under the name Hyvia. It focuses, among other things, on hydrogen fuel cells in light commercial vehicles and the roll-out of hydrogen charging facilities.

Renault’s idea of ​​developing a passenger car using hydrogen technology is not unique.

For example, Toyota started developing fuel cell vehicles in 1992 – where hydrogen from a tank mixes with oxygen and produces electricity – in 1992. In 2014, the Japanese company launched the Mirai, a sedan with hydrogen fuel cells.

Other major companies such as Hyundai and BMW are also looking at hydrogen, as are smaller companies such as UK-based Riversimple.

While the above companies are looking at the potential of hydrogen, some high-profile figures in the automotive sector are not so sure. In February 2021, Herbert Diess, the CEO of Germany’s Volkswagen Group, weighed in on the topic. “It’s time for politicians to accept science,” he tweeted.

“Green hydrogen is needed for steel, chemistry, aero… and must not end up in cars. Far too expensive, inefficient, slow and difficult to roll out and transport. After all: no #hydrogen cars in sight.”

Despite the Scenic Vision concept unveiling on Thursday, even Renault chief executive Luca de Meo appears to be cautious when it comes to talking about hydrogen’s prospects, according to comments published by Autocar.

Elsewhere, in February 2020, the Brussels-based campaign group Transport and Environment hammered out how much competition hydrogen would face in the transport sector.

T&E made the point that green hydrogen shouldn’t just “compete with gray and blue hydrogen,” which are produced from fossil fuels. “It will compete with gasoline, diesel, marine fuel oil, kerosene and, of course, electricity,” T&E said.

“Wherever batteries are a practical solution – cars, vans, city, regional and perhaps long-haul trucks; ferries – hydrogen will face an uphill battle because of its lower efficiency and, as a result, much higher fuel costs.”

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