China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has reinforced its commitment to develop the country’s hydrogen fuel industry as part of its ongoing effort to promote green energy, according to China Daily. This year, the development of hydrogen stations for new energy vehicles was included for the first time in Premier Li Kegiang’s Government Work Report, released in early April.
In a recent news conference held in late April by the State Council Information Office in Beijing, Huang Libin, Spokesman for the Ministry, stated, “Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will coexist and complement fully electric vehicles, jointly meeting the people’s transportation needs.”
Both hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and fully electric lithium battery vehicles are important technical routes for new energy vehicles, Huang said, adding that based on their technical characteristics and development trends, fully electric vehicles have so far proved more suitable for passenger cars travelling within the city limits, while hydrogen-powered vehicles suit large commercial vehicles, such as buses and trucks, used over longer distances.
Safely storing hydrogen, however, is a key technical challenge for the development of the industry, as is the lack of supporting infrastructure, laws and regulations surrounding the technology. “The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will carry out demonstration runs of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles together with other departments, with the aim of promoting innovative development in China’s hydrogen energy and fuel cell vehicle industries,” Huang added.
Japan’s Toyota motor group- one of the first automakers to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – established a joint research institute with Tsinghua University on April 21, 2019, working on hydrogen fuel cell technology. On April 22, Toyota partnered with Foton Motor Group and Beijing SinoHytec, a high-tech enterprise focusing on the R&D and industrialisation of hydrogen fuel cell engines.
The cooperation will reportedly see the hydrogen-powered buses produced by Foton Motor coupled with Sino-Hytec’s hydrogen fuel cell power system which uses Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell stack and other components and parts. Xu Heyi, Chairman of BAIC, Foton’s parent company, stated that Foton’s fuel cell bus will serve the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
The collaboration between Toyota and Foton is, according to China Daily, expected to extend to a full range of models, including passenger cars, vans, and light and heavy trucks. Meanwhile, SAIC Maxus revealed China’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger car at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show; this model has a driving range of 340 miles (550 km), and takes five minutes to refuel from empty to full.