Fuel Cell Carving Knife
Queensland has just bought five Hyundai hatchbacks. I know, your pulse is racing as well. Ordinarily such a piece of news would be met with mild yawning at best. Italy’s Lamborghini police cars these aren’t. However, there is something rather different about them. They are Hydrogen Powered.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) join the hordes of technology that isn’t new, but has gotten refinements in the wake of all of us realizing that there are still toxic fumes coming out of our cars, no matter how much we attempt to clean them. For those that follow Michael Liebreich’s hydrogen ladder religiously, it’s an enormous waste of time to even consider creating light vehicles with it and he makes a great spectacle of deriding the idea as absurd. The discourse surrounding it is great fodder for comment wars and people whose mission in life is to make sure that nobody is wrong on the internet, so let’s not get into that.
So, FCEV police cars. An FCEV mail van in Aberdeen and Stellantis beginning production of them. Aside from inviting comparisons to where Battery Electric Vehicles were a couple of decades ago, what exactly do all these incursions into FCEV tell us?
Not much. Not that we’d notice. As ever, wherever we end up on this will be up to scientists and engineers. Not to mention the people funding them. Still, from this side of the fence, many thousands of miles away and surrounded by the humming of an overwhelming majority of piston engines, I can see reasons for and against it.
Unsurprisingly for anyone, police cars get subjected to more abuse than most cars. Yes, this is true even if they are not used on police chases of the kind you used to see on police cam action shows of the 90s. And ordinarily, suspension rebuilds and body shops were enough to deal with it. With a BEV, that battery pack will be subjected to outright abuse. Not to mention the fact police officers may not be especially inclined to “Sit back and take a coffee and enjoy the scenery” in the middle of the day waiting for their EV to recharged. And, of course, I am betting Hyundai is getting loads of nice real-world data as part of the deal, much like Ford with their new F150 Lightning.
On the other hand, they have now limited themselves to whatever area they can cover around the hydrogen fuel station. And it is likely “The”Fuel station. There is also the possibility that Hyundai will just decide to drop support for it. After all, they have already shunted the Genesis FCEV. And although they haven’t done so for other projects (Hyundai is banking heavily on it taking hold on commercial vehicles, essentially taking the role diesel does nowadays).
We’ll see what Queensland PD makes of it. It’s very unlikely that they will come out for or against support on it. But this is one of the cases on which no news isn’t good news. We’ll have to wait until the next time they need a vehicle. Assuming they’re still FCEVs at the time and they get some more, we have an answer. Same for all of the other “knifes” attempting to carve out a niche for FCEV in a world that, so far, will have to deal with loads of perfectly serviceable cars with dead batteries by the time I reach retirement age. Though if developments are anything to go by, at least that will thankfully be less of an issue.