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Volvo considering hydrogen power

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Volvo could introduce hydrogen fuel cell technology in 10 years. 

The Swedish company says that despite electrifying at least one variant in every model by 2019 and introducing five fully-electric models in the next three years, its efforts are not solely concentrated on battery technology. Speaking to Drive, Volvo vice president of sales and marketing Bjorn Annwall said that the company was still developing both energy systems and fuel cell technology may make an appearance in its cars by 2027 – or even earlier.

“You should never say never when it comes to technologies,” Annwall said.

“I think fuel cell is interesting but for the next 10 years it’s batteries. But a fuel cell is essentially a liquid battery, so at some point maybe.” 

“What’s the right way of packing fuel cells into a package, what’s the right battery management system. There’s still a lot of potential.

“It’s not very different, you can just replace the batteries with a fuel cells. It’s not like its two different lanes, right? They are similar drive systems,” he said.

Annwall’s comments came when asked about developing solid-state batteries, which appear to be off the cards in favour of fuel cell technology.

Volvo’s implementation of the technology may differ to brands such as Hyundai, which is introducing its Nexo FCEV later in 2018, and Toyota, which is testing its Mirai FCEV vehicle on our roads. But the concept is similar.

Volvo Group’s research and development company, Powercell, has confirmed it has completed a pre-study with its parent company and is planning a 20Kw hydrogen fuel cell range extender that will be fitted to the brand’s XC90 hybrid and will maintain the battery at its optimum capacity to provide full power at all times.

The car company previously moved away from the idea of using petrol-powered range extenders because of concerns over emissions and fuel use but the use of a hydrogen fuelled unit keeps emissions to zero.

However, with only one hydrogen fuelling station in Australia the infrastructure isn’t here to support it, and according to Annwall, such as system is at least five years off. 

“So maybe if we get some breakthrough in fuel cells, maybe it won’t be that hard to incorporate that into the path we are on right now, but I don’t see that happening in the next five years. But you should never say never,” he said.


 

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