India is preparing to test a new breed of electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells, to reduce its carbon footprint on the environment. The country’s largest power generator, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), is planning to procure such vehicles for pilot projects, according to a news report in Livemint. International automobile maker Toyota and Hyundai Motor, and India’s Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and KPIT Technologies have shown interest in the initiative, the report added. Let’s understand how the fuel cell-based electric vehicles (FCEVs) work, and take a look at the cars based on this zero-emission technology:
How FCEVs work
The FCEVs are electric vehicles that derive energy from a fuel cell powered by hydrogen, instead of drawing it from only a battery. Unlike conventional electric vehicles, where the battery is the primary source of vehicle traction, FCEVs use electricity generated by hydrogen-powered fuel cells and need the battery for auxiliary functions such as starting the vehicle or storing energy generated from regenerative braking. Therefore, the FCEVs do not require plug-in capability to charge the battery but need hydrogen as a fuel to operate.
Hydrogen-powered FCEV: Toyota Mirai
Launched in 2015, this coupe-inspired hydrogen-powered fuel cell-based electric car from the stable of Japanese automotive maker has been refreshed recently to become one of the most competitive FCEVs in its category. The Mirai boasts a standard 8-inch digital combination meter, digital rearview mirror, 12.3-inch high-resolution TFT touchscreen, and a 14-speaker JBL sound system. The car is sold only in select locations, including California in the US, Europe, Japan and United Arab Emirates.
Price: Starts at $49,500
Estimated fuel efficiency: 71-75 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe)
Hydrogen-powered FCEV: Honda Clarity – Fuel Cell
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is one of the three models that the Japanese automotive maker offers in its Clarity range of cars. Based on a hydrogen-powered fuel cell-based electric motor, the car is said to have a range of 360 miles on a full tank of hydrogen. As for the features, the car has heated outside mirrors, audible vehicle alert system for pedestrian awareness of vehicles at low speeds, seating capacity for five adults, Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The car is sold through lease payment terms at select locations globally, including California in the US, Japan, and Europe.
Price: Starts at $379 per month (36-month lease, $2,878 on signing)
Estimated fuel efficiency: 68 MPGe
Hydrogen-powered FCEV: Hyundai NEXO
This is one of the few SUV-shaped electric cars based on hydrogen-powered fuel cell-based powertrain. Like other Hyundai offerings, the NEXO is loaded with features. It boasts advanced driver assist systems, remote smart parking assist, lane following assist, blind-spot view monitor and surround-view monitors, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist and rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, sunroof, electric parking brake, smart power tailgate, Qi wireless smartphone charging pad, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Text-to-Speech via Bluetooth, heated and ventilated front seats and split-folding rear seats. The car is sold through both down payment and lease terms in select locations in South Korea, US, and Europe.
Price: Starts at $58,935
Estimated fuel efficiency: 61 MPGe