In what’s seemingly a case of perfect timing, an Australian start-up firm has unveiled plans to build a hydrogen fuel cell Ford Ranger, with the aims of models being on the road by the end of the year.
The company is called H2X; a previously embattled firm that’s been chipping away at hydrogen vehicles for several years. In recent times it’s changed its name from H2X Australia to H2X Global, having recently been given a few cash-based lifelines amid personnel changes behind the scenes.
Having initially hatched the idea of producing a hydrogen Ranger as an internal test vehicle, H2X is now primed to release the model to businesses and the public. It has the lofty aim of selling between five digits and six digits of hydrogen Rangers within the next five to 10 years. Ford is not involved in the programme.
The Ranger FCEVs themselves are based on current ‘T6’ architecture. It’s called the Warrego, named after a river in Queensland. H2X claims to have buyers for the model worldwide, with orders reportedly from the Netherlands and Malaysia, as well as Australia. It will be produced in Port Kembla, New South Wales, starting mid-2021.
The fuel-cell powertrain produces 70kW of power, and can be had in either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. That power figure may sound meagre, but H2X claims that the model has a whopping 1500kg tray payload rating, and could get more power in later models.
There’s plenty of buzz around hydrogen technology at the moment, with Jaguar Land Rover confirming a development programme earlier this year and Toyota performing its first tests using the alternative fuel to power near-standard internal combustion petrol engines.
While hydrogen passenger car projects are few and far between outside of Toyota and the likes of the Hyundai Nexo, the commercial and trucking sector is showing much more momentum. Expect more hydrogen utes to be in the works as manufacturers hook into the momentum around vehicles like the Hyundai Xcient.
The Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of funding has put H2X around nine months behind schedule, but the firm now believes it’s back on track.
“This converted pick-up gives us the chance to do some testing, but also gives us a great chance to put it in the hands of our partners and then be able to have running vehicles on the roads they will be operated,” H2X Global CEO Brendan Norman told Australian outlet CarSales.
“We are also considering some overseas assembly locations … but in general we do see the heart of the vehicle coming from Australia and that’s the target, all things going well.
“It’s been an interesting ride going through the fundraising process over the last 12 months. […] We had some activities from overseas with people wanting to come in but then an Australian group Liberty Venture Capital have decided to come on-board to help us through the first rounds and get us moving.”