Air Products is a leading industrial air gases supplier and has taken delivery of the car as part of the London Hydrogen Network Expansion (LHNE) consortium project; a Government-backed initiative part funded by the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK).
The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell was supplied on a 48-month lease with ALD providing general support on operating the vehicle.
The service provided by ALD Automotive has been praised by Air Products. Emma Guthrie, Business Development Manager, Hydrogen Energy Systems, commented: “The team at ALD were very helpful in working through the framework for what was one of the first commercial leases of a fuel cell car in the UK.” She added: “So far, having the fuel cell car as part of our fleet has given us a valuable understanding that we will continue to build on, and may influence future vehicle choices.”
The vehicle is based at the company’s office in Hersham, Surrey, and has been making guest appearances at corporate events held to showcase its work. Air Products is currently the only company with hydrogen fuelling stations in the London area – with one fuelling station in Stratford (which is run as a bus depot and used exclusively for fuelling the fleet of fuel cell buses in operation in London) and two publically accessible hydrogen fuelling stations at Heathrow and Hendon.
As well as being used at events at the Hendon and Heathrow fuelling stations and the Hersham site, the ix35 Fuel Cell is being used for specialist STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) events and at school outreach activities in the local area. In addition, the company’s engineers have used the car to support visits to the fuelling stations for maintenance work while some colleagues have used the car to go to company meetings.
Commenting on the vehicle’s addition to the fleet, Emma Guthrie said: “We were excited about the opportunity to be one of the first companies leasing a fuel cell car in the UK and using it at Air Products’ Smart Fuel fuelling stations in London.”
The performance of the car has exceeded expectations, with one tester commenting: “I expected a quiet car with poor acceleration. The car is quiet, however acceleration and top speed are in line with, and in some cases exceed, other road users.” Another added: “I expected it to be sluggish and heavy, but it’s interesting to drive.” And one driver praised the versatility of the vehicle, saying: “The boot is very practical even with the hydrogen tank in it.”
Range was also found to fit in with most of the company’s everyday requirements. The ix35 Fuel Cell is equipped with a 136ps electric motor and two hydrogen storage tanks, with a total capacity of 5.64kg, which enable the vehicle to travel up to 369 miles on a single fill.
One of the testers commented: “I would feel comfortable making a trip with a 300-mile return range. This is good enough for local trips to some local Air Products facilities and the STEM activities we support in the Surrey area.”
The reactions by the Air Products drivers have been welcomed by ALD Automotive, which is seeing growing take-up of Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) amongst its clients as it expands its Mobility Services product portfolio.
Matt Dale, Special Vehicle Operations Manager, Fleet Services at ALD Automotive, said: “We are pleased to hear that the ix35 Fuel Cell has been deployed so effectively at the Air Products’ fleet, and look forward to working with the company on ensuring the continued successful running of the vehicle and others. As more fleets recognise the benefits of AFVs, we will continue to work closely with our clients to ensure the successful integration and running of such vehicles on fleets.”