Faizan Agha, manager of advanced product development for Hyundai Canada, accompanies Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher on a test drive in the prototype Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell sport utility. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Hydrogen vehicles entering zero-emission auto market in B.C.

B.C. getting its first hydrogen filling stations in Victoria, Metro Vancouver

Hydrogen fuel cells have powered transit buses, forklifts and other industrial vehicles for years, and they are now emerging as an alternative to conventional hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles for city drivers.

There are about 3,000 hydrogen-fuelled passenger vehicles on the road, mostly in Japan, California, Germany and France. And B.C. intends to lead the way for Canada, as it has done with electric cars.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall hosted a demonstration of electric and fuel-cell vehicles at the B.C. legislature this week. Mungall announced that in addition to more electric charging stations, the province will start a hydrogen fuel network this year with two public retail stations in Metro Vancouver and one in Greater Victoria.

There were two hydrogen vehicles on display, a Toyota Mirai sedan that has been on the market for a couple of years, and a prototype Hyundai Nexo sport utility that I took for a spin along the Victoria waterfront.

Smooth and silent as a conventional electric, the Nexo accelerates rapidly and offers high-tech features like retracting door handles and a power display that illustrates the operation of the hydrogen fuel cell stack.

A pressurized hydrogen fuel tank at the back feeds the fuel cell, producing electricity without combustion. The only exhaust is water vapour, as the hydrogen is re-combined with oxygen to re-create the water it was extracted from.

Faizan Agha, manager of advanced product development for Hyundai Canada, says fuel cell vehicles have two key advantages over plug-in electric. They fuel as quickly as a gasoline vehicle, and their range is more than 600 km, three times that of an electric car that takes 16 hours or more to charge from a standard home plug-in.

Currently, hydrogen vehicles are more expensive to build than mass-market gasoline and diesel cars, but less expensive than battery-powered cars. With the range and portability of fuel, they may be better suited for rural and remote locations, where larger stationary fuel cells are used as clean energy generators in areas off the power grid.

Mungall said the B.C. government is continuing to develop its network of electric vehicle charging stations, doubling the number of fast-charging stations to 64 sites.

The province leads Canada in electric vehicle adoption, thanks in part to point-of-sale rebates of up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of a new battery electric or plug-in hybrid, and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The B.C. Scrap-it program offers up to an additional $6,000 rebate for taking an old vehicle off the road and replacing it with an electric or fuel cell car.

BC legislatureElectric vehicles

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

Local authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Central Saanich to formally inform Agricultural Land Commission about soccer pitch proposal

Move is meant for information only with no application having come forward yet

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read