With the drive concept, Stellantis aims to close existing gaps in the application profile of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and at the same time drive decarbonisation forward. The drive presented enables the construction of vehicles that - like battery-powered electric vehicles - do not produce local emissions. Unlike the latter, however, it enables a range on the scale of conventionally powered vehicles and rapid refuelling in only about three minutes.
Because of the requirements for long range and fast refuelling, not all LCV application profiles can be covered by a battery-electric drive. However, a "pure-bred" fuel cell drive that would meet these requirements is hardly economically feasible in this vehicle category due to space constraints. The "Mid-Power Architecture" presented by Stellantis offers a range of at least 400 km according to the WLTP measurement method. At the same time, it does not require any compromises in terms of space utilisation and load capacity.
The base vehicle is an LCV, which is offered identically by several Stellantis companies: the Peugeot Expert, which is also produced under the name Citroen Jumpy and Opel Vivaro. For this purpose, the Stellaris engineers developed a concept that is compatible with the space layout in the electric version of these vehicles: the 700 bar hydrogen tanks are located where the necessary large batteries are located in a BEV - under the vehicle floor. They are refuelled via a special filler neck, which is located in the same place as in the conventional vehicle version.
The smaller batteries, which are also necessary for a fuel cell vehicle, are mounted under the seats. The fuel cell stack, together with the associated control electronics, is located in the engine compartment. There is enough space there, because the combustion engine is no longer needed and has been replaced by a much more compact electric drive.
The batteries come from Stellantis' PHEV programme. Stellaris companies PSA and Opel worked together on the development; suppliers Faurecia and Symbio provide the hydrogen storage system (three tanks, together 120 litres) and the fuel cell stack. The powertrain was developed at Stellantis' global Center of Competence Hydrogen & Fuel Cells in Rüsselsheim, Germany. Assembly is done at the Opel Special Vehicles (OSV) facility, likewise based in Rüsselsheim. It will enter production before the end of the current year, explained Carla Gohin, Vice President Research and Innovation for Groupe PSA, in a virtual press conference.
To make hydrogen fuel cell propulsion economically viable, four challenges remain, Gohin explained: Full scale production of green hydrogen at viable cost; Europe-wide networks of filling stations; integration of fuel cell systems into vehicle platforms (as is shown with the propulsion system at hand), and cost reduction through economies of scale.