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Nissan X-Trail FCV



Hydrogen, as all the experts assure us, is the future.

All this hybrid/biofuel stuff is apparently just a rest stop on the road to an emissions-free world. 

Hydrogen power produces absolutely no emissions at all and is therefore the Holy Grail for manufacturers battling against social pressures and legislation.

It is only recently that working hydrogen vehicles that look like they could cope with everyday life have started appearing.

Based on the X-Trail SUV, the FCV has been developed as part of a wider drive by Nissan to cut its emissions. 

It expects half of all vehicles to run emission-free by 2050.

At a cool £500,000, the car I tried is a long way from being affordable, but it does look and feel like a regular car.

Its performance is comparable to a four-cylinder petrol engine and will accelerate to 62mph in 14.5 seconds and reach speeds of 93mph.

It has a range of between 230 and 310 miles.

The technology powering the FCV is shared with Renault’s Scenic. The powertrain comprises a hydrogen fuel tank, a fuel stack, a lithium-ion battery, an inverter and an electric motor powering the front wheels.

Spare power goes to the battery, which is also charged when the vehicle brakes.

The main barrier is cost, but Nissan hopes to have a commercially viable hydrogen vehicle on the road by 2015.


Behind the wheel

Little differentiates the FCV from a regular SUV, save for very high rear seats due to the hydrogen tank installed underneath them. 

And the dashboard display is conspicuously missing a petrol gauge, replaced instead with a rev counter for the electric motor and a gauge showing battery capacity.

All 207lb-ft of torque is available straight away, which makes the FCV sprightly off the line.

It’s no racer and the suspension has not been fine-tuned in the way it would for a production car, but nevertheless it’s eminently driveable.

Indeed, the picture accompanying this article was taken when the FCV lapped the famed Nurburgring in 11mins 58 seconds.

The overall driving experience is very similar to driving a regular SUV. Just quieter and with no need to change gears.

The verdict

The hydrogen age is moving ever closer. The technology
does exist, and it works. 

All that’s needed now to make it happen is a way to slash the costs associated with producing it, and an infrastructure to support its use.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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