A new automotive startup has entered the scene in Australia. Straight out of Port Kembla in New South Wales comes an ambitious local startup by the name of H2X Australia. This startup's aim? To produce a whole lineup of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, also known as FCEVs. They're not just talking about passenger vehicles, by the way. The company is working on everything from cars, industrial vehicles like tractors, and even trains!
As with many startups, H2X Australia is inspired by a noble purpose: to revive the Australian automaking industry. Undoubtedly, this is in response to the current latent state of the industry in the country.
The company's leadership intends to bring back the glory of Aussie car manufacturing and to remind the world of the country's engineering capabilities and a pool of resources.
What are FCEVs?
Here’s a quick introduction to what FCVs or FCEVs are exactly. As mentioned before, these are hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. Instead of a battery, these vehicles mainly utilize a fuel cell to power its electric motor. In some cases, these fuel cells may be used together with a battery or supercapacitor. Still, the core element here is the fuel cell.
Most fuel cell cars are considered emission-free since they only produce heat and water as byproducts. The one challenge with FCEVs is that there needs to be a hydrogen infrastructure for them to be useful. Just like petrol stations for combustion-engine cars, FCEV owners need to have access to hydrogen fueling stations for them to drive far.
Who's Behind H2X?
Despite the challenges with FCEVs, H2X remains ambitious, thanks to their initiative and leadership. The team is led by CEO Brendan Norman, who brings to the table his executive experience with carmakers like VW and Audi in several countries around the world. On top of that, he has also worked with hydrogen carmakers Riversimple and Grove Hydrogen.
Furthermore, the team also has Peter Zienau focusing on powertrain development (with experience from GM and Saab), and their CTO Ian Thompson (ex-Lotus, Volvo, Opel, Aston Martin, and Tesla).
According to some sources, H2X Australia is backed by Denzo Limited and the Elvin Group, neither of which are directly involved in the automotive industry per se. Denzo Ltd is focused on energy and hydrogen projects, so the overlap with H2X is somewhat clear. Interestingly, the Elvin Group is one of Australia's largest concrete producers. However, they have a deep interest in eliminating the emissions of their transport chains, which may explain their interest in H2X, particularly in heavy-duty vehicles.
Australian, Through and Through
H2X Australia's ambition of revitalising the Aussie automaking industry seems to be taking a two-pronged approach.
Firstly, through their car production activities. As mentioned before, the company intends to demonstrate and remind the world of Australia's engineering capabilities, both in car manufacturing and clean energy. To do this, they've chosen Port Kembla in New South Wales as the location for their plant, which will keep assembly localised. This location also has a port that's large enough to dock car transporters, which would make logistics much more efficient.
Having a plant in this location also keeps the company close to local suppliers, which seems to be the second prong in its effort to 'reboot' the Australian automaking industry. To start off, the company has made an initial commitment to prioritise Australian suppliers, especially when it comes to the body and interior parts. In the long run, though, the company aims to have a minimum of 80% local content in its cars over the next five years. To make this possible, H2X also plans to partner with local universities, institutes, unions, industry groups and companies.
Right now, H2X has already published the rendering of their first vehicle, 'Snowy'. Named after a hydroelectric power plant project called Snowy Mountains, the Snowy is an SUV that's set to launch in 2022. The car itself is said to carry a 190-kW electric motor, able to go from 0-100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds. The expected range? 650 kilometres.
For the first year of production, the company aims to produce at least 3,700 units. Still, cars aren't the only thing on H2X's timelines. By 2025, the company aims to produce up to 25,000 vehicles while also creating 5,000 jobs!
Quite frankly, it's great to see a carmaker that's not only interested in pushing out more cars but is also contributing to the industry by way of job creation. In my opinion, putting more skilled people to work is useful not only for H2X but for the Aussie carmaking industry, as a whole. Read more about industry news and market insights in the car parts environment from CarPart’s website.
By Ray Hasbollah