The District of Saanich has become home to the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV on Vancouver Island this week with the arrival of the NEXO.
The vehicle, part of a car-sharing company known as Modo and made by Hyundai, is powered by hydrogen and only emits water vapour as it’s driven.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles work similarly to battery-powered vehicles. However, unlike a battery-powered vehicle, they don’t run down or need recharging. They instead produce heat and energy as long as fuel is supplied.
Fuel cells are made of two electrodes — a positive and a negative — and an electrolyte. The hydrogen is sent to the negative electrode and oxygen to the positive. The hydrogen is separated into protons and electrons to make an electrical current and they react with the oxygen to produce water and heat.
Modo says the hydrogen technology works better in colder Canadian climates compared to conventional batteries. They also say the vehicle has a range of 570 kilometres and takes about five minutes to refill.
“Experimenting with alternative fuel types is extremely valuable and allows us to continue to reduce our emissions,” said Christian Brandt, Vancouver Island Fleet Manager at Modo in a press release Thursday. “We’re learning a lot about the operational implications of having a variety of vehicles in our fleet, including hybrids, full EV’s and plug-ins. The NEXO, with its hydrogen powertrain, brings in even more learning, while getting our fleet closer to zero-emissions.”
The technology for hydrogen-powered vehicles has been around for a while for commercial vehicles, according to Modo. However, they say the infrastructure is still in the early stages of development for consumer vehicles.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is conducting research into a Renewable Energy Hub to learn more about the infrastructure implications.
Modo says the vehicle is located at Falmouth Road and Quadra Street in Saanich, which they say is about one kilometre from the nearest hydrogen refuelling station. They’re promoting its use with $50 in free driving time when joining online with promo code SAANICHNEXO.