What is a hydrogen powered car?

A hydrogen powered car is a vehicle that uses hydrogen fuel to power the car. Unlike conventional vehicles which are powered by diesel and gasoline. The car converts the chemical energy of hydrogen to mechanical energy by combining hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to run electric motors or burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine. 


Difference between hydrogen cars and electric cars

Hydrogen vehicles are powered by an electric motor and are therefore classified as ‘e-cars’. However there is a big difference between hydrogen fuel cell cars and electric vehicles. Hydrogen cars produce their electricity themselves from a tank of stored Hydrogen. Unlike electric vehicles that get its power from a built in battery that can be charged from an external plug source.

Hydrogen Refueling Stations

Currently, the biggest disadvantage of hydrogen fuel cars is the lack of options for refueling. Hydrogen vehicles are fueled at special high pressure hydrogen fuel pumps. Two New Zealand energy companies working together to develop New Zealand’s first nationwide hydrogen refueling station. Hiringa Energy and Waitomo Group have teamed up with plans to put 20 stations across the North and South Island. Development and consenting for the first hydrogen sites will get underway in 2020.

The only other hydrogen refueling station currently in New Zealand was made by Hyundai NZ to fuel their own Nexo’s. It is at Hyundai’s Auckland headquarters and they buy bottled gas, then feed that into the car under high pressure to the cars fuel tank. It is relatively expensive for Hyundai but it is the only way for them to run their Nexo hydrogen cars. 

Hydrogen vehicles are becoming more popular overseas, especially in the United States. So ultimately hydrogen refuelling stations will become more in demand in New Zealand, which will result in refuel pumps in ordinary service stations.


Benefits of hydrogen powered vehicles

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • High reliability
  • Energy efficient
  • Development of renewable energy resources
  • Reduced demand for oil
  • Improved environmental quality
  • Very quiet, no engine noise
  • Quick charging time, most electric cars take between 30 minutes and several hours for an 80% fast charge. However hydrogen cars are full in less than five minutes.
  • Hydrogen cars can have a longer range than most electric cars. A full hydrogen tank can last 480 kilometres.


New Zealand’s Hydrogen Cars

New Zealand currently only has three hydrogen powered cars.


  • Hyundai Nexo


The Nexo is New Zealand’s first zero emissions hydrogen powered SUV. The car was released in June 2019. It can be refueled in just six minutes and it boasts a range of 660km.

Price: starting from $58,735



  • Honda FXC Clarity Honda


The Honda FXC Clarity is based on the 2006 Honda FXC. The car produces zero emissions and can refuel in little as five minutes. It is a mid-size luxury car with the full function of a large sedan, but still has a long range.

Price: starting from $34,355




The Toyota Mirai is a sleek new design from Toyota, making hydrogen cars look trendy. A lot like the other two cars mentioned the Mirai has zero emissions and refuels in only five minutes. It is a midsize car that is predicted to become one of the more popular hydrogen cars in the future. 

Price: starting from $58,550



With the continuing urgency to improve the environment and decrease carbon emissions, hydrogen cars will become a lot more popular and in demand.


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