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Aussie start-up aims high with locally built FCEVs

H2X Australia targets ‘world-leading’ position with all-new hydrogen-powered range

15 Jun 2020

A NEW Australian-owned start-up, H2X, has announced ambitious plans to develop and produce a range of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) locally by mid-decade including passenger cars, SUVs and commercial and agricultural vehicles.


Launched last week, H2X has offices in Sydney, Indianapolis, Kuala Lumpur and Barcelona and will base its production facilities in Port Kembla, near Wollongong in New South Wales.


CEO Brendan Norman, a former BMW and Volkswagen Group executive, said in a statement that the company was focused on reaching “market-leading volumes by 2025” and that the product portfolio will include “locally designed and built heavy and industrial vehicles as well as a range of passenger cars”.


These include the Snowy SUV, a HiAce-size van (shown in MPV, taxi and delivery van format) and a tractor, while a pick-up truck is also in the pipeline.


The FCEV powertrain is said to be based around a hybrid that leverages kinetic energy through battery and ultra-capacitor technology “with a strong focus on hydrogen”. The powertrain will be sourced from a still-to-be-confirmed supplier in Asia, while the chassis will likewise be derived from a third party overseas.


Mr Norman said that “from the start, locally manufactured bodies and interior parts will be fitted, with priority on supply localisation the mission of the company”.


The aim is for a minimum 80 per cent local content by the end of its current five-year plan.


Preliminary specifications show the front-wheel-drive Snowy offers a maximum power output of 190kW, can accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 6.9 seconds and can travel for 650km between refills. It rests on a 2300mm wheelbase and measures 4400mm long, 1900mm wide and 1300mm high.


Driver-assist systems will include adaptive cruise control, predictive forward braking and lane-change assist, and up to eight airbags will be fitted.


Principal investors are the Elvin Group and Denzo, and based on “positive reactions from a number of industrial partners with a strong interest in vehicle purchases, the company is confident of being in a world-leading position in the hydrogen energy field by 2024 when a full product line-up is realised”.


H2X also said it “will come to market shortly” with other applications covering rail, marine, stationary power and heavy vehicle sectors.


“Today we launch our company which not only demonstrates the advanced technology and engineering capabilities of Australia in the clean energy arena but also provides a real clean alternative in terms of transportation,” Mr Norman said.


“With the development of many green energy projects in Australia at the moment, we have a unique opportunity to bring a significant manufacturing operation back to the country.”


Other members of the team include chief design officer and head of Europe Chris Reitz (ex-VW/Audi, Nissan, Fiat), chief marketing officer and head of Americas Alan Marder (ex-Toyota), chief powertrain officer Peter Zienau (ex-GM, Saab) and chief technology officer Ian Thompson (ex-Lotus, Aston, Volvo Trucks).


Experienced Australian automotive industry executive Kevin McCann is an adviser to the board, while the chairman is Elvin Group Renewables managing director Samuel Blackadder.

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