New Car Report Card: The lowdown on Cadent’s new Hydrogen fuelled Hyundai response cars

future of energy

As part of its RIIO-2 environmental goals, Cadent has committed to having 1,000 zero emission vehicles operating across all of its networks by 2026. The process got underway recently with Cadent’s North London network taking delivery of its first set of zero emission vehicles, five Nissan e-NV200 electric vans and five Hyundai hydrogen response cars.
The pros and cons of the new vehicle types will be assessed with issues such as range and the ability to operate equipment being looked at as Cadent looks to acquire more zero emission vehicles, with all options being considered, as it works towards its 2026 goals.
Feedback from our engineers will be important part of this process, and here Matt Cornwell, Head of Safety and Assurance for Cadent’s North London network, shares some early feedback: 
  • Refuelling: Where and when?
Our North London network was chosen as the first recipient of the new vehicles because of the availability of charging points and fuelling stations. Currently there are seven filling stations around the M25 area. Filling up the vehicles is very similar to a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.
You  pull up at the filling station and switch off your engine.

As all hydrogen filling stations unmanned it’s like the pay at pump option that most garages now provide. You pick up the correct fuel dispensing nozzle at the pumps, insert your payment card and select the correct pressure, 700 bar in our case, which is the pressure typically used for small cars and vans.

Then you start refuelling just like with a regular car. The whole process takes three to four minutes and a full tank gives you a range between 370 and 400 miles.
  • How does it hold up in terms of cost and fuel efficiency?
In terms of cost, hydrogen is currently around £12 a kilogram and the tank has a capacity of 6kg, so it’ll cost around £72 to fill it up, with a full tank taking you between 370 and 400 miles.

The fuel economy almost works in reverse to a normal vehicle, in that it gives much better fuel economy with town and city driving than it does on high speed dual carriageway and motorway driving.
The vehicles are exempt from road tax and the London Congestion charge. This is a big benefit in central London, where the congestion charge is £15 per day.
  • Any major differences to a petrol, diesel or hybrid car?
The remarkable thing about the car, is how unremarkable it is!

It drives, stops and handles just like a conventional car. Apart from it being silent, you would struggle to know you were in a hydrogen powered car.
  • Driving experience
The driving experience is great. 

The car can carry up to five people in comfort and it has a decent size boot and all the mod cons you would expect in a car, plus a few that you wouldn’t normally get. 

Those who enjoy manual driving will be disappointed though, as the cars are all automatics.
  • Any challenges?
The current lack of hydrogen filling stations is a challenge at the moment and means you have to plan your journey a little bit more than you would in a traditional diesel, petrol or hybrid vehicle to make sure you don’t run out of gas.

However, with a tank that can take you up to 400 miles, you’re OK so long as you plan ahead.
  • Fitness for operational purpose of hydrogen fuelled vehicles
Time will tell. A number of our operational staff will be trying them out in the North London network over the coming weeks and months and no doubt we’ll learn more as we go along.

Currently there are no suitable hydrogen powered vans for us to test but the cars allow us to try out the hydrogen technology and see out how it works in practice.

We can gain a better understanding of things like range, availability of filling stations, reliability and load carrying capacity and how our use of heating and mobile device charging ports impacts things. This will give us a better idea of how hydrogen powered vehicles fit in with our operational needs and requirements as the gas emergency service.  

The lessons we learn will help inform decisions as Cadent looks to acquire more zero emission vehicles.

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Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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