Dubai: Passengers at the Dubai International Airport can now take a ride on the region’s first hydrogen powered vehicle, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Saturday.

The hydrogen-powered car, Toyota Mirai, will be on a trial run the RTA continues to look for alternate fuel options as part of its sustainable transport strategy.

Gulf News reported last year that the RTA is studying the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as one of the options for its taxi fleet, when Mirai was unveiled in November 2016.

The futuristic vehicle that is touted as a zero emission car, emitting only water, is powered by hydrogen fuel cells and can run up to 500 kilometres in a single refuel. 

Refueling for the vehicle can be done in minutes unlike the electric vehicles which take longer duration for recharge.

The noise-free vehicle is characterised by high-level driving convenience and uses Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS) that combines the fuel cell technology and the hybrid technology. It contains a fuel cell stack and a high-pressure hydrogen tank.

“RTA attaches paramount importance to protecting the environment and saving power consumption, and environmental sustainability is a strategic goal of RTA. This experiment is part of Dubai’s low carbon strategy aimed at making Dubai a role model in efficient power consumption, and low carbon emission,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA.

He added that the initiative help RTA achieve its target of reducing carbon emissions of taxis by 2 per cent as stipulated by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and the Green Economy drive.

Al Tayer said that the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC), a subsidiary of the RTA, has become the first taxi operator in the Middle East to deploy a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (Mirai) in its fleet. 

“RTA will start a trial run of the vehicle as part of its limousine service in the Dubai International Airport to assess the economic feasibility and environmental benefits of its operation besides verifying the efficiency of the engine, maintenance cost and other parameters,” he said. 

In 2008, Dubai became the first city in the region to begin a trial of hybrid vehicles as taxis and now around 800 hybrid taxis operate in the city.

RTA has announced a plan to replace half of the taxi fleet with eco-friendly vehicles by 2021 and right now around 20 per cent of the fleet is hybrid.

"Results of our trials with hybrid vehicles have proved the economic and environmental feasibility of the experiment by saving fuel consumption by 30 per cent and reducing carbon emission by 30 per cent as well,” said Al Tayer. 

The plan involves raising the number of hybrid taxis in Dubai to 4,750 cabs by 2021. 

The DTC will account for the largest share of hybrid fleet with 2,280 vehicle. 

Refueling station

In October, Al Futtaim Motors in collaboration with Air Liquide opened the first hydrogen refilling station in the UAE at the Dubai Festival City. The opening of the station will facilitate the use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at a larger scale,” said Saud Abbasi, Managing Director of Toyota at Al Futtaim Motors, following the launch of the trial run.