Press Release

AVL and First Hydrogen to Build Two Hydrogen-Fuel-Cell Powered Light Commercial Demonstrator Vans

AVL and First Hydrogen partner to deliver light commercial fuel cell demonstrator vehicles for the UK market.


Basildon, United Kingdom, November 2, 2021: Ambitious emissions reduction targets for 2030 have been set to achieve the goal of reaching net zero by the middle of the century. Over the coming months we will see global leaders set out their plans to achieve these targets, specifically at the UN Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26). Fuel Cell (FC) and hydrogen propulsion are key enablers to support this net-zero future, and the partnership between AVL and First Hydrogen will explore and push this zero-tailpipe emission technology forward.

The project will develop and build two hydrogen fuel cell powered light commercial demonstrator vans which will be used to showcase the capabilities of fuel cell technology in light commercial vehicles and provide a platform for future commercialisation. Work has already started at AVL’s Engineering Centre Basildon, for delivery in Q3 of 2022. The vehicles will be equipped with the latest generation Ballard FCgen®-LCS fuel cell, giving the vehicles a range of more than 500 kilometres.

Drawing on established expertise, collaborations, and knowhow, AVL is a strong partner for hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle development with over 25 UK based engineers and 500 engineers globally across three purpose-built fuel cell technical centres. Drawing on additional support from the AVL group, the UK team will execute:

  • Fuel Cell System (FCS) system specification, design, supplier selection and virtual integration, including system matching (FC stack, compressor and battery)
  • Balance of plant (BoP) specification and high-pressure hydrogen system specification
  • FCS calibration optimisation on testbed and in-vehicle
  • Full vehicle packaging design and physical integration including vehicle commissioning
  • Control module SW + HW development for fuel cell control unit, tank control unit and vehicle control unit
  • AVL Drive assessment for performance baseline and NVH/drivability

The project with First Hydrogen cements AVL’s commitment to fuel cell development. Over the last year the company have completed the APC funded FCVGen1.0 project and has upgraded its Engineering Centre Basildon with the custom built H2 Cube, that enables the execution of safe and efficient UK fuel cell and hydrogen propulsion projects.

Dr Bernadette Longridge, Engineering Centre Manager, AVL Powertrain UK: "The AVL team are proud to be working with the First Hydrogen team on delivering two hydrogen fuel cell demonstrator vehicles. This project is an opportunity to showcase the advantages of fuel cell technologies within the light commercial vehicle area and is an important step to show the potential for fuel cells to support the goal of net zero by the middle of the century."

Nicholas Wrigley, Chairman of First Hydrogen: “We are delighted to announce this important partnership with AVL and Ballard Power Systems. Our mobility strategy consists of designing and building two prototype demonstrators using an existing EV platform. These demonstrators will be road legal in the UK and will both fast track our learning of the fuel cell mobility market and technology, and also provide our prospective customers with real time testbeds for their future hydrogen mobility needs. We are also launching the design of a bespoke fuel cell platform for commercialisation of a fleet of vehicles including a range of delivery which will include vans, taxis and medium sized trucks. These will be designed in the UK by the First Hydrogen team and built in the UK for the UK market and export. First Hydrogen is also assessing the viability of green hydrogen production in the UK and elsewhere to be able to provide its mobility customers with a full service, to include the fuel.”

With more than 12,200 employees, AVL is one of the world's leading mobility technology companies for development, simulation, and testing in the automotive industry and in other sectors such as rail, marine, and energy. Based on extensive in-house research activities, AVL delivers concepts, technology solutions, methodologies, and development tools for a greener, safer, and better world of mobility and beyond.

AVL supports international partners and customers in their sustainable and digital transformation. The focus lies on the areas of electrification, software, AI and automation. In addition, AVL supports companies in energy-intensive sectors on their way to a greener and more efficient energy generation and supply.

Innovation is AVL's passion. Together with an international network of experts at more than 90 locations and 45 Tech and Engineering Centers worldwide, AVL is driving the future of mobility. In 2023, the company generated a turnover of 2.05 billion Euros, of which 10 % are invested in R&D activities.

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First Hydrogen Limited is a UK based company focused on the design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles and hydrogen production. First Hydrogen is designing and developing a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered light commercial vehicle under two agreements with AVL Powertrain UK Ltd. and Ballard Power Systems Inc. having a range of 500+ kilometres. First Hydrogen is also targeting green hydrogen production with a target of 500 MW operating capacity in the UK.

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