Volume IconWhat are fuel-cell electric vehicles and how are they different from EVs?

There is a lot of activity in the EV market, amid concerns around climate change and a push to green mobility. So, what are fuel Cell Electric Vehicles? Do we have them in India yet? Let's take a look

ImageKhalid Anzar New Delhi
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From established names like Tata Motors to new-age technology companies like Ather Energy and Ola, the automobile sector is shifting its focus to electric vehicles in view of an unprecedented rise in pollution levels and the climate change crisis therefore. The first breed of EVs to come out in the market are battery electric vehicles. Though good, these vehicles are not an alternative to the internal combustion engine, or ICE-based, vehicles simply because they have a limited range-per-charge capacity and are dependent on external charging systems. On that note, the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs as they are called, make a better alternative to ICEs-based vehicles. 

How? Let’s find out

What is a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle? The FCEV is a type of electric vehicle that does not require external charging, but a fuel like Hydrogen to generate current required by the electric vehicle for mobility and to charge the built-in batteries for auxiliary functions. Much like the ICE-based vehicles, the FCEVs will require fuel but a green one that does not pollute the environment.

How do FCEVs work: The FCEVs are electric vehicles that derive energy from a fuel cell powered by hydrogen, instead of drawing it only from a battery. Unlike conventional electric vehicles, where the battery is the primary source for vehicle traction, FCEVs use electricity generated by hydrogen-powered fuel cells and need the battery for auxiliary functions like starting the vehicle or storing energy generated from regenerative braking. Therefore, the FCEVs do not require plug-in capability to charge the battery but need hydrogen as a fuel to operate.

Are FCEVs available in India? FCEVs are currently not available in India, but they have been tested here. Earlier in 2021, the country’s largest power generator, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), had asked the automobile industry to procure such vehicles for pilot projects. News reports suggest that international automobile makers Toyota and Hyundai Motor, and India’s Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and KPIT Technologies had shown interest in the initiative.

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First Published: Oct 14 2021 | 8:04 PM IST

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