Renault has been beavering away at a hydrogen fuel cell-powered version of its Master Van for quite some time. But now, the company has finally nailed down a launch date.
The new Renault Master Van H2-Tech will go on sale in 2022, when it’ll become a longer-range, zero-emission alternative to the firm’s existing battery-powered Master ZE.
While the Master ZE is ideal for urban use, a range of less than 100 miles means it’s not suitable for longer journeys – especially those on higher-speed routes.
This is where the Master Van H2-Tech comes in. The van uses the same 33kWh battery and electric motor as the Master ZE, with the addition of a 30kW hydrogen fuel cell and four 6kg hydrogen storage tanks to boost its range up to a claimed 310 miles.
The H2-Tech shares the same body as the medium wheelbase, high-roof version of the diesel Master, meaning there’s enough space in the back for up to 12 cubic metres of goods. Renault also says this particular set-up makes the van well suited to life as a delivery vehicle.
But Renault won’t just stop at panel vans. The brand has plans for a whole range of vehicles based on the Master Van H2-Tech, including a 15-seat minibus and new chassis cab model, both using the same hydrogen technology.
These variants are already at the prototype phase; the minibus is expected to have a range of 186 miles, while the chassis cab should be capable of covering 155 miles, simply due to the extra weight the two vehicles will need to carry.
Renault also promises that refuelling times will be comparable to that of a diesel van, at around five minutes – and the company is even working on a solution to the hydrogen infrastructure problem to help keep its new vans on the road.
The Renault Group has partnered with Plug Power (one of Europe’s leading hydrogen infrastructure companies) to create Hyvia. The new firm was designed to create a complete hydrogen ecosystem, managing everything from the production of carbon-free hydrogen to the fuel cell systems for Renault’s light commercial vehicles.
Hyvia has also unveiled a new hydrogen refuelling station, which will soon be available for businesses to purchase, lease or rent. Manufacturing enough fuel to feed the pumps shouldn’t be a problem either, as Hyvia’s system can generate its own hydrogen on-site.
The refuelling station can be specified with an electrolysis system, which pulls hydrogen from regular water and compresses it into storage before it’s dispensed into the vehicle. If that’s not suitable for the site, Hyvia can also deliver readily compressed hydrogen to the pump by tanker, like a conventional petrol station.
Prices are yet to be confirmed, but the Master Van H2-Tech is unlikely to be cheap. The smaller Kangoo Hydrogen was priced in excess of £40,000, over double the starting price of the diesel Kangoo, and £15,000 more than the pure-electric ZE version. However, Lease deals and incentives should help bring the price of the hydrogen-powered Master down.
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