While most manufacturers are pushing ahead with electric vehicles to reduce emissions, some are also investing heavily in hydrogen propulsion. Renault has released a teaser image for a new concept car that will run on hydrogen.
In a statement accompanying the image, Renault said the concept was ‘part of the company’s recently announced objective of achieving a 100 per cent electric energy mix by 2030’.
In simple terms, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles use an electric motor powered by a battery, but instead of topping up the battery through a plug like a traditional EV, a chemical reaction using hydrogen takes place within a fuel cell. This creates electricity that can be used to power the motor or top up the battery.
The advantage is that a smaller battery can be used than in an EV, which saves weight, while refilling a hydrogen tank is much quicker than recharging a big battery. The downsides are consumer concerns about safety, as hydrogen is stored in a highly pressurised tank, while hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is almost non-existent.
However, despite Renault saying this model will be part of its ‘100 per cent electric energy mix’, there are rumours that the fact it has been described as a ‘hydrogen engine’ could hint at this being a traditional combustion engine converted to run on hydrogen. Toyota has been testing a similar concept in recent years.
The French firm currently sells hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, but these use the traditional fuel cell approach. Either way, there are no harmful emissions from the tailpipe.
Very few details have been released about the new concept from Renault, but the teaser image shows a sharp design that shares many cues with the Renault 5 Electric concept released last year.
There are triangular daytime running lights, slim headlights with a four-bulb design and an illuminated Renault badge. The bonnet has deep creases in its sides, while it appears to have cameras in place of traditional wing mirrors.
The image was released during Renault’s annual results presentation, with CEO Luca de Meo strongly hinting that it would make production, saying: “When we do a concept, we want to turn that into real cars.”
The Renault hydrogen concept will be revealed in full in May.