Faizan Agha, manager of advanced product development for Hyundai Canada, accompanies Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher on a test drive in the prototype Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell sport utility. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Hydrogen vehicles entering zero-emission auto market in B.C.

B.C. getting its first hydrogen filling stations in Victoria, Metro Vancouver

Hydrogen fuel cells have powered transit buses, forklifts and other industrial vehicles for years, and they are now emerging as an alternative to conventional hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles for city drivers.

There are about 3,000 hydrogen-fuelled passenger vehicles on the road, mostly in Japan, California, Germany and France. And B.C. intends to lead the way for Canada, as it has done with electric cars.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall hosted a demonstration of electric and fuel-cell vehicles at the B.C. legislature this week. Mungall announced that in addition to more electric charging stations, the province will start a hydrogen fuel network this year with two public retail stations in Metro Vancouver and one in Greater Victoria.

There were two hydrogen vehicles on display, a Toyota Mirai sedan that has been on the market for a couple of years, and a prototype Hyundai Nexo sport utility that I took for a spin along the Victoria waterfront.

Smooth and silent as a conventional electric, the Nexo accelerates rapidly and offers high-tech features like retracting door handles and a power display that illustrates the operation of the hydrogen fuel cell stack.

A pressurized hydrogen fuel tank at the back feeds the fuel cell, producing electricity without combustion. The only exhaust is water vapour, as the hydrogen is re-combined with oxygen to re-create the water it was extracted from.

Faizan Agha, manager of advanced product development for Hyundai Canada, says fuel cell vehicles have two key advantages over plug-in electric. They fuel as quickly as a gasoline vehicle, and their range is more than 600 km, three times that of an electric car that takes 16 hours or more to charge from a standard home plug-in.

Currently, hydrogen vehicles are more expensive to build than mass-market gasoline and diesel cars, but less expensive than battery-powered cars. With the range and portability of fuel, they may be better suited for rural and remote locations, where larger stationary fuel cells are used as clean energy generators in areas off the power grid.

Mungall said the B.C. government is continuing to develop its network of electric vehicle charging stations, doubling the number of fast-charging stations to 64 sites.

The province leads Canada in electric vehicle adoption, thanks in part to point-of-sale rebates of up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of a new battery electric or plug-in hybrid, and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The B.C. Scrap-it program offers up to an additional $6,000 rebate for taking an old vehicle off the road and replacing it with an electric or fuel cell car.

Just Posted

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Jason Lum was the top vote-getter on Chilliwack council

New Chilliwack council will be sworn in at inaugural council meeting on Nov. 6

West Van Highlanders beat Sardis Falcons on last second field goal

The Falcons fell 17-14 on home field and will finish the BC High School football season on the road.

Okanagan Sun stop Valley Huskers in BCFC semi-final

The Huskers dramatic turnaround season ended on the road at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna.

Chilliwack Chiefs acquire veteran goalie Nolan Hildebrand

Mathieu Caron has played way too much this season and now has an experienced backup

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read