The alternative to combustion
Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen: hydrogen instead of diesel?
The fuel cell was eliminated before it had a chance to make its mark. Opel is now launching a new adventure with the Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen on behalf of the Stellantis Group. The transporter should be an alternative to diesel vehicles, especially for fleet customers.
Drive quietly and without emissions and recharge energy quickly: with these arguments, Stellantis wants to convince van customers of hydrogen propulsion. The group is therefore proposing a hydrogen variant for its Citroën Jumpy, Opel Vivaro and Peugeot Expert vans. The base vehicle is the respective electric offshoot. Opel was responsible for the implementation and production of these vehicles in the multi-brand group.
In Rüsselsheim, e-transporters are converted into small series. The large traction battery is removed and in its place three 700 bar hydrogen tanks are placed in the underbody, which hold up to 4.4 kilograms of hydrogen and allow a range of up to 350 kilometers. The 45 kW fuel cell and its components are located in the engine compartment. The 136 hp electric motor remains unchanged. Technicians install a 10.5 kWh battery under the seats; it is recharged via the 11 kW on-board charger and allows a range of around 50 kilometers. A great effort, but it should pay off. For Andreas Marx, head of Opel Germany, Vivaro-e Hydrogen is a great opportunity to advance the issue of electric mobility. “Hydrogen technology is a door opener to get in touch with fleets looking for long-range alternatives to combustion engines and convince them of our experience in electric drives.”
Indistinguishable from conventional vehicles
Representing the Stellantis brands, Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen was available for the first test drives. At first glance, the Transporter, available in two lengths (5.00 and 5.31 meters), is indistinguishable from the conventional fuel versions. Typical shapes designed for carrying capacity also define the style of the Hydrogen. The cargo space is also quite conventional. Like the E-Transporter, the Hydrogen also has the same storage space as the Diesel. Depending on the length of the vehicle, the cargo volume is 5.3 or 6.1 cubic meters. It can load up to a ton, a decent value. The Vivaro-e weighs only 750 kilograms. It can also take a lot of money. Here, however, the diesel variants are superior. Depending on the engine, the trailer load is between 1800 and 2500 kilograms.
The interior is familiar from conventional Vivaro models. The differences – particularly compared to the battery-electric Opel – are marginal and can be seen in the cockpit displays, which have been expanded to include a gauge for the hydrogen tanks. The operation presents no riddles to the driver, so the key is turned and the automatic is set to D. Quiet operation is very typical. Nothing is heard from the broadcast apart from a slight murmur. As with the battery-powered Vivaro, the engine response can be selected via three driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport). The Eco is very relaxed, ideal for city driving. If you are in a hurry, the sport mode helps. Here the 136 hp are available in their entirety. To cover peak loads, the 10.5 kWh battery provides support during acceleration. However, the Vivaro does not turn into an acceleration miracle: the top speed is 110 km / h, the “sprint” on a country road lasts 15 seconds.
Slightly cheaper than diesel
More important than speed on the road, however, is the quick and easy refueling of the three hydrogen tanks. The filling of the column takes place in three minutes. On average, 1.3 kilograms of hydrogen are enough for a distance of 100 kilometers. At a price of just under 13 euros per kilogram, the Vivaro-e Hydrogen is a little cheaper than the diesel variants, which according to the standard consume around seven liters, given the currently high fuel costs. However, with currently 95 filling stations, the public hydrogen tank network in Germany is still sparse and unevenly distributed. If the worst comes to the worst, the battery should offer a range buffer to reach a gas station.
Speaking of costs: Opel does not indicate a price. The vehicles are offered on lease only and, thanks to state subsidies, come to a monthly fee of 700 euros. From the factory, the Hydrogen has, among other things, a navigation system, the three-phase on-board charger and a reversing camera. But it shouldn’t stop with this hydrogen model. For 2024, large vans (Citroën Jumper, Opel Movano, Peugeot Boxer) will also be available in the hydrogen version. From 2025, a hydrogen-powered pick-up is also planned for the US market.