Unlike usual, we start today's update with a statement: "First Hydrogen's strategy, announced almost 2 years ago, is fully paying off today." After Researchanalyst first reported on the innovative hydrogen company, with offices in Vancouver and London, at the end of 2021, no one could have guessed the success story that would result. First Hydrogen's goal at the time, regardless of major competition such as Stellantis, Hyundai and Renault, was to become the leading designer and manufacturer of zero-emission, long-range hydrogen-powered vehicles in the UK, EU and North America.
This was to be achieved with the "best-of strategy", the integration of existing technologies and a proven chassis to exploit both cost and time advantages. The venture was flanked by cooperation with global market leaders.
of the Utility Van are to be delivered p.a. from 2026 according to management.
Ballard Power, one of the world's leading suppliers of innovative clean energy with a hydrogen fuel cell fleet already covering well over 50 million km globally, was enlisted to develop the technology. For the design, an agreement was reached with AVL Powertrain Limited, the world's largest independent automotive development, simulation and testing company. Under this, the development and construction of two hydrogen-powered light commercial vehicles for demonstration purposes began at AVL's UK facilities.
The vans, which will be powered by the MAN eTGE as a so-called "donor vehicle," are equipped with the latest generation Ballard FCgen LCS fuel cell, which is expected to give the vehicles a range of over 500km. With these vehicles, First Hydrogen can demonstrate to potential customers the functional parameters of a zero-emission hydrogen transporter, such as combined range and payload, towing capability, and refueling speed, as well as detail customer requirements and secure custom design orders for the UK, European and North American markets.
Ahead of next milestone
Since the partnerships were announced, the schedule of experienced management has remained on track without major delays, and various development and production milestones have been achieved. For example, test drives of the two prototypes were successfully completed, ensuring that the vehicles' hydrogen and high-voltage electrical systems met the highest possible safety standards.
Approval by the Vehicle Certification Agency, the UK's vehicle licensing authority for road transport in the UK, also ignited the next stage of development - test drives with customers in real-world use on the road, which are scheduled to start next March. The authority's "go" sparked significant interest in the test drives from major fleet operators, with at least 13 interested parties from a range of industries, including telecoms, utilities, infrastructure, delivery, grocery and healthcare, already set to take part to test First Hydrogen's zero-emission light commercial vehicles alongside their own fleets.
To optimize the efficiency of the two zero-emission light-duty vehicles before they are then tested by fleet customers, First Hydrogen completed mileage collection and vehicle evaluation. These will then feed into the assessments, which will be conducted with partner AVL Powertrain. The powertrain specialist, in turn, tests the two commercial vehicles during real-world operating cycles, such as highway, urban and rural driving. Based on vehicle weight, battery size and powertrain energy consumption, the two "Light Commercial Vehicles" manage a projected range of 400-600km with a single refueling that takes less than 5 minutes, depending on the route.
it is expected to take less than 5min to refuel a commercial vehicle developed by First Hydrogen with a range of over 500km.
With the collected data from the currently conducted tests, it should be possible to accurately determine the fuel consumption and range of the vehicles in different driving scenarios. With the help of artificial intelligence, it will make it possible to predict energy consumption, optimize fuel efficiency and identify areas for further development.
In addition, the analyses enable a comparison with simulations performed for testing under the Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure. The WLTP, also part of EU law, forms a global standard used by buyers and commercial fleet managers to compare vehicle energy consumption and emissions and, for electric vehicles, to calculate range. The results, expected in mid-March, provide the basis for First Hydrogen to establish a competitive total cost of ownership for utility vans. As a result, commercial fleet operators will be able to make accurate comparisons between vehicles running on fuel cells, battery-powered electric vehicles and vehicles with internal combustion engines. Once completed, both vans will be deployed to large fleet operators as part of the Aggregated Hydrogen Freight Consortium program.
Second generation on the way
Parallel to the tests with the two first-generation transporters, the course has already been set for the move to series production. With the EDAG Group as a design partner, another market leader has been won. EDAG is the world's largest independent service provider for the international mobility industry and provides engineering services in the areas of vehicle technology, electrics/electronics and production solutions. First images of the silhouette, front and rear view have already been released. The 2nd generation vehicles are modular and can be adapted to operational use for express delivery, grocery stores, construction, utilities or emergency services.
With the start of test drives under real road conditions, First Hydrogen has reached another important milestone in the development of its zero-emission light commercial vehicles. In addition, the next step towards series production has been taken through the extensive cooperation with EDAG Group. Company management expects to deliver between 10,000 and 20,000 units of the utility van in 2025/2026. Calculating with the lower target of "only" 10,000 units at a unit price of USD 50,000, sales would be around USD 500 million. First Hydrogen's market capitalization, by comparison, is USD 121.88 million.
In addition, the Canadians have enormous future potential by building a "Hydrogen-as-a-Service" model. In addition to series production of light commercial vehicles, the Group aims to cover the entire value chain in the hydrogen sector. For example, a joint venture has been established with EV Consulting GmbH, based in Aachen, Germany, to develop a prototype for a customized fueling system for the hydrogen mobility market. Furthermore, the own production and distribution of green hydrogen is to be launched in Europe in the future, in addition to the UK and North America.
The update is based on the initial report 07/2022