The ACT government has taken receipt of Australia’s first fleet of hydrogen fuelled passenger vehicles, with 20 Hyundai NEXO hydrogen vehicles officially registered in the ACT.
The Hyundai Nexo vehicles, according to Hyundai, are ready to hit the roads later in March, becoming some of the first hydrogen vehicles deployed in Australia.
The ACT government first announced that it would be purchasing a 20-strong fleet of hydrogen vehicles in 2019. While the vehicles have now made it to Canberra and been officially registered, one sticking point causing delays to their deployment has been difficulties in getting necessary re-fuelling infrastructure installed in the national capital.
Hyundai took delivery of the vehicles in Sydney last year, but they remained grounded until personnel with the necessary expertise were able to travel to Canberra to undertake the installation of the refuelling station.
It is understood that personnel had intended to travel from the United States, and then from Victoria, to install the refuelling rig, but were caught up by Covid travel restrictions throughout 2020.
The refuelling station is set to be operated by ActewAGL, and The Driven understands the supply of hydrogen provided to the vehicles is expected produced using renewable energy sources. The re-fuelling station is set to finally open officially later in March and will deliver hydrogen at 700-bar pressure for rapid refuelling.
ACT energy and emissions reduction minister Shane Rattenbury said that incorporating the zero-emissions hydrogen vehicles into the government’s vehicle fleet would be another step towards reducing the ACT government’s own emissions footprint.
“Tackling climate change means tackling transport pollution, and zero-emission vehicle technology is a key part of this,” Rattenbury said.
Local Hyundai dealership, Lennock Hyundai, will take on responsibility for servicing the fleet vehicles and will become one of the first vehicle dealerships in Australia with the capability to service hydrogen fuelled vehicles.
The Queensland government is set to become the next government to incorporate hydrogen vehicles into its car fleet, having placed an order for five of the Hyundai NEXO models, which are currently making their way to Australia.
Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick said that adding the hydrogen models to the state’s government fleet would provide a demonstration to Queensland drivers of the kinds of zero emissions vehicles that will be available to them.
“We want to demonstrate to the Queensland community that these vehicles can be on the road like any other vehicle,” Dick said. “They’ll be seamlessly introduced into the QFleet range of vehicles to show the public that hydrogen can be used safely.”
Hyundai Australia CEO Jun Heo said the delivery of the Nexo vehicles to the ACT government was a significant milestone for the company and for the development of hydrogen vehicles in Australia more broadly.
“As part of a line-up that includes the hybrid and plug-in hybrid Ioniq, and the pure electric Ioniq and Kona models, Nexo also underscores Hyundai’s leadership in eco-mobility,” he said.
The Nexo vehicle has a claimed range of more than 600km on a fuel tank and is able to be refuelled with hydrogen in between three and five minutes.
The Nexo also successfully scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating, becoming one of the first fuel-cell vehicles to achieve the maximum score, and comes with a range of autonomous driving capabilities.
The hydrogen fuelled vehicle runs on a similar electric motor drivetrain to battery electric vehicles, such as Hyundai’s Ioniq and Kona models, using a fuel-cell to convert hydrogen into water and electricity – with the water being the only form of exhaust from the vehicle.
Hyundai has also signed a deal with gas supplier Jemena to install an additional hydrogen refuelling station at the car company’s Macquarie Park headquarters, with hydrogen to be supplied by Jemena’s Western Sydney Green Gas project.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.