French automaker Renault is one-half of the Nissan-Renault alliance, and that means they’ve got access to a large bin of electric vehicle parts. Renault has launched four electric vehicles, including the Kangoo Z.E. electric delivery van that has been by France’s postal service. These vans are getting a hydrogen fuel cell range extender that doubles their driving range and service potential.
Renault will deploy three Kangoo delivery vans with hydrogen-range extenders (called HyKangoos, hehe) with a range of more than 62 miles even under cold conditions or driving mountainous roads. That Symbio FCell modular fuel cell system ranges in size from 5 kW to 20 kW, reducing production costs and giving the fuel cell system a wider range of applications. The stacks come in 5 kW modules, and the HyKangoo uses a 10 kW stack and can hold 38 liters of clean-burning hydrogen.
This small-scale test aims to see just how cost effective hydrogen fuel cell hybrids could be compared with diesel or electric cars. While the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel is far from in place, ever-higher fuel taxes in Europe are making the clean-burning fuel an increasingly attractive alternative. The hydrogen system is especially important for cold weather usage, as electric vehicles suffer from range drain due to cold weather and energy-intensive heating systems. La Poste had pledged to have 10,000 EVs in service by the end of 2011, and is among the cleanest postal fleets in the world.
From rotary engines to city electric cars, “range extenders” are increasingly big business, even for companies like Lotus that don’t have much of a “green tradition.” If the price of the technology continues to come down, perhaps hydrogen fuel cells really can replace pure electric cars.
Source: Green Car Congress