Jaguar Land Rover is developing a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle based on the new Land Rover Defender.

The company said the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) concept is part of its target of zero tailpipe emissions by 2036 and net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039, in line with the Reimagine strategy that sets out JLR’s transition to being an electric-first business.

Batteries and hydrogen should be seen as partners instead of rivals

FCEVs have been identified as being able to provide high energy density and rapid refuelling, and minimal loss of range in low temperatures, suiting the technology to larger, longer-range vehicles, or vehicles operated in hot or cold environments.

Since 2018, the global number of FCEVs on the road has nearly doubled while hydrogen refuelling stations have increased by over 20 per cent. By 2030, the Hydrogen Council forecasts predict FCEV deployment could top 10 million with 10,000 refuelling stations worldwide.

In a statement, Ralph Clague, head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We know hydrogen has a role to play in the future powertrain mix across the whole transport industry, and alongside battery electric vehicles, it offers another zero-tailpipe emission solution for the specific capabilities and requirements of Jaguar Land Rover’s world class line-up of vehicles.”

The prototype Defender is being developed at Jaguar Land Rover in an effort dubbed Project Zeus, which is part funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre. The project will give engineers an understanding of how a hydrogen powertrain can be optimised to deliver on performance and capability such as towing.

Partners on Project Zeus include Delta Motorsport, AVL, Marelli Automotive Systems and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).

“The work done alongside our partners in Project Zeus will help us on our journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039, as we prepare for the next generation of zero tailpipe emissions vehicles,” said Clague.

The prototype new Defender FCEV will begin testing towards the end of 2021 in the UK to verify key attributes such as off-road capability and fuel consumption.

Jon Beasley, APC business development and programmes director, said: “The Land Rover Defender is an iconic vehicle and has always had to perform a range of roles in different environments. Hydrogen fuel cell technology provides alternative solutions to many of the challenges associated with battery electric vehicles, such as range, quick refuelling needs and access to charging infrastructure.

“Successful testing will provide a real understanding of the opportunities for the growth of FCEV production in the UK as we transition away from traditional internal combustion engines, which will in turn sustain or create jobs not only for vehicle production but also the supporting supply chain.”

ZEUS project is one of 19 hydrogen projects currently being funded by the APC with a combined investment of just under £70m.


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