Well, this is very interesting indeed. Stellantis – the brilliantly-named supergroup formed after the merger of PSA and Fiat Chrysler this year – has announced that it will start selling a hydrogen fuel cell/electric plug-in hybrid van by the end of 2021. Who knew a mid-size van would have us this excited?
Stellantis, which will also have all-electric versions of all of its vans available by the end of this year, admits that it needs an eco-friendly solution for customers that currently drive more than 186 miles (300km) per day, or who need to refuel in just three minutes.
It refers to its solution as a ‘plug-in fuel cell electric LCV’ that can provide over 250 miles of range on a single tank/charge. The propulsion system has been designed to fit perfectly into the current electrified LCV platform of the Citroen Dispatch, the Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro and the Peugeot Expert.
To ensure that it retains the same cargo and load volumes as the internal combustion engined versions, the medium-sized 45kW fuel cell is housed under the bonnet next to the electric drive motor, and the 4.4kg hydrogen tank is under the floor – where the battery usually sits in a full EV. The fuel cell hybrid’s 10.5kWh battery is actually carried over from Stellantis’ standard ICE plug-in hybrids (the Toyota Mirai features a battery around a tenth of this size) and can provide an all-electric range of 31 miles after a 60-minute charge. There’s all of the usual EV regenerative braking systems too.
Battery power is mainly used during acceleration but is also deployed for start-up and first-mile driving to improve the durability of the fuel cell drive system. Seems like a bit of a Goldilocks setup going on, doesn’t it?
The end figures are 132bhp, 192lb ft of torque, 0-62mph in around 15 seconds and a top speed of 81mph. All very acceptable.
Pre-production versions are apparently already built and undergoing testing, with full production of left-hand drive models set to start later this year at Opel Special Vehicles in Rüsselsheim, Germany. The resulting Dispatch, Vivaro and Expert will be available in medium or long wheelbase forms, although they may be rather pricey to begin with…
What do we think of the powertrain, Internet?