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Mar 8, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Hydrogen cars: Air Liquide and Toyota team up to promote eco-taxis in Paris

Vehicles capable of moving around in silence without emitting CO2 or other pollutants, just water, already exist. This technology is known as "zero emission hydrogen" and is currently being used by Hype, a fleet of environmentally-friendly taxis that operates in and around Paris. That fleet is set to grow thanks to HysetCo, a new company created by a partnership between Air Liquide, Toyota, Idex and the Paris Electric Taxi company.

Photo credits: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz)/Wikimedia Commons

Accelerating the spread of electric hydrogen vehicles in and around Paris is the aim of a new company created jointly by Toyota France, Air Liquide, Idex and the Paris Electric Taxi Company (STEP), as reported by Reuters. The new firm is called HysetCo and announced on 21 February that it intended to play an important role in the development of the Hype fleet.

Range of over 500 km yet still eco-friendly

The Hype vehicles, launched by STEP in 2015 during the COP21 climate conference, constitute the first fleet of zero emission hydrogen taxis in the world, and operate in Paris and the surrounding area. "HysetCo will make it easier to use electric hydrogen vehicles and boost the charging infrastructure in the greater Paris area so that we reach 600 taxis by the end of 2020," said a joint press release. "Toyota will deliver 500 extra Mirais by the end of 2020 to add to the existing fleet of 100 Hype vehicles."

These hydrogen taxis will have a range of over 500 kilometres and be able to charge in just three to five minutes, according to the Hype website, which also guarantees that they will emit "no local pollutants (NOx), no CO2, no noise... just water".

Promising technology which hit a roadblock

Hydrogen vehicles require a fuel cell which makes it possible to generate electricity using the hydrogen on board the car, and thus drive around whilst only emitting water. This technology is simple and environmentally friendly, but its development has been slowed down by a lack of infrastructure as well as by the recent rise in popularity of electric vehicles, with many automotive manufacturers having chosen to follow the model of US firm Tesla. 

There are few companies which are currently banking on the hydrogen vehicle market, including Air Liquide and Total who are working together in this sector in California and who have also bought into US distributor First Element Fuel (FEF) alongside Honda. Other than Toyota, South Korean manufacturer Hyundai is also going down the hydrogen route to offer their customer base cars which emit less pollution.

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Cover photo credits: Toyota

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