Is this the emission-free, diesel-free horsebox of the future?

  • Hydrogen-fuelled horseboxes could be the way forward in a greener world, as diesel engines are consigned to history.

    The government’s plans to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars from 2035 also included the 3.5-tonne chassis used in smaller horseboxes.

    And while lorries and buses will not be covered by the forthcoming ban, using hydrogen cells could mean they produce net zero carbon emissions.

    Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer owners managing director Jon Phillips told H&H bigger vehicles are not suitable to be powered electrically, as the battery technology as it exists will not work; there is too much weight, not enough range and recharging would take too long.

    “But there are hydrogen-powered cars on the road now and they’re wonderful,” he said adding that he had been inspired by Hyundai’s plans for such vehicles to look into the technology.

    “Why we haven’t done more with it, I’ve no idea.”

    Mr Phillips explained that hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen from the air to produce water, generating electricity. If the hydrogen fuel is produced through electrolysis using renewable energy, the process can have net zero CO₂ emissions.

    He added that hydrogen fuels cells are less energy-efficient than batteries, but the compressed hydrogen tank can be refuelled in less than five minutes and in a similar way to refuelling a horsebox.

    “This makes hydrogen ideal for vehicles that undertake long journeys and are currently limited by the range and charging times of battery vehicles,” he said.

    “The 2035 PRP horsebox has been loosely based around the Hyundai Neptune HGV truck scheduled for 2030. It will have a range of around 400km, interchangeable trailer units behind a motorhome tractor and the capability to operate as an autonomous vehicle.

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    “The tyres are from Goodyear, a concept called the ReCharge, which theoretically never need replacing or even rotating because they can replace worn treads from the inside. What is more, they cannot go flat!”

    Mr Phillips said refuelling would cost about the same amount as recharging an electric battery, and that Hyundai is investing heavily in hydrogen stations across Europe. This method would also take petrol and diesel tankers off the roads.

    “The future is these hydrogen vehicles, I’ve got no doubt,” he said.

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