Hopium rolls out a prototype of its handsome hydrogen-powered sedan
French company Hopium has wasted no time getting a prototype up and running. The company announced its intentions to build high-performance hydrogen cars in October 2020, and has now shown video of its Alpha 0 car on a test track hitting 200 km/h (124 mph).
The production car, called the Machina, promises more than 500 horsepower, speeds over 230 km/h (143 mph), and range over 1,000 km (620 miles) on a full pair of H2 tanks. Expect that 500 hp to be a shortish burst figure, with just how long depending on the size of the buffer battery.
Two 700-bar hydrogen tanks are supplied by Plastic Omnium out of Belgium. One runs up the middle of the chassis floor, another shorter one sits sideways under the trunk, with the fuel cell stack at the front. It's a much flatter chassis in the renders than your average combustion car, but not as compact as a battery-electric chassis. It'll also be a lot faster to fill up, says Hopium, taking about three minutes at a hydrogen pump.
The Hopium car looks terrific, as if its designers have been paying attention to Aston Martin's work. Its signature element, says the company, will be its wavy headlight design, which does indeed look pretty snazzy. We'd be surprised if it doesn't handle, too – Hopium's founder Olivier Lombard is a talented race car driver. In 2011, he took out the LMP2 class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, becoming the youngest-ever Le Mans winner.
Hydrogen is shaping up as a hot sector in the renewable energy game thanks to its ability to store renewable energy in a transportable form. But it's going to be tough to start with – at the end of 2020 there were only 553 hydrogen stations in the world. Japan was leading the world with 142, while France's 34 stations placed it second in Europe behind Germany with 100. New hydrogen station builds are accelerating, though, and this trend is likely to continue as hydrogen begins to prove the value of a high-density, fast-filling, liquid electro-fuel in the long-haul trucking sector.
Would a fully built-out fueling infrastructure make hydrogen a great choice for passenger cars? Yes, under some circumstances. It'll be better than a battery-electric for long days on the highway, since you can fuel up and hit the road roughly as quickly as today's gasoline cars. It'll also be better for people that don't have the ability to charge at home, like many apartment dwellers. Outside those use cases, batteries will likely still make more sense for most city dwellers.
Hopium has opened up the order books and is now taking €410 (US$488) deposits for the first thousand Machinas off the line, with full prices starting at a fairly brutal €120,000 (US$143,000) and deliveries estimated to begin in 2025.
"The Hopium teams are already fully committed in carrying out the next steps," reads a company press release, "aiming to produce Hopium Machina on an industrial scale, with a new rendez-vous expected in the first quarter of 2022."
Check out a video below.