Automotive

Awesome-looking SUV cleverly sidesteps hydrogen's biggest problem

Awesome-looking SUV cleverly sidesteps hydrogen's biggest problem
Pininfarina gets the credit here for highlighting the removeable hydrogen cartridges in such an iconic way
Pininfarina gets the credit here for highlighting the removable hydrogen cartridges in such a distinctive way
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Pininfarina gets the credit here for highlighting the removeable hydrogen cartridges in such an iconic way
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Pininfarina gets the credit here for highlighting the removable hydrogen cartridges in such a distinctive way
Hydrogen cartridges can be removed by hand, refilled at a station, swapped at a shop, or send
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Hydrogen cartridges can be removed by hand, refilled at a station, swapped at a shop, or sent out to your home
The first car Pininfarina ever designed from the back to the front
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The first car Pininfarina ever designed from the back to the front
The grille is back at the front, to cool the fuel cell stack
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The grille is back at the front, to cool the fuel cell stack
A sporty SUV with an 800-km range and zero emissions when running on green hydrogen
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A sporty SUV with an 800-km range and zero emissions when running on green hydrogen
View gallery - 5 images

There's not enough lithium for the EV revolution, and hydrogen cars are tough to sell because you can't fill them up anywhere. But NamX has a neat solution, and it's had Pininfarina design a "Hydrogen Utility Vehicle" to get the idea rolling by 2026.

It looks like the world won't be able to produce enough lithium to feed the accelerating EV revolution. Not by a long way. And while we see all manner of alternative battery technologies in our line of work, it's not clear that within the next 5-10 years there'll be a high-density, high-powered, safe, cheap, long-life, stable, environmentally responsible, road-homologated, wide-temperature-range, lithium-free battery alternative that makes it out of the lab and into automotive-grade, giga-scale production. Lithium is proving tough to dislodge.

So while many (including myself) have proclaimed the hydrogen car dead on arrival, and that for most drivers battery-electric cars will do the job better, the fact is that right now, hydrogen fuel cell powertrains offer more or less the only remotely scalable alternative for zero-emissions motoring without lithium. That's not to say scaling them up will be trivial; there's next to no hydrogen fueling infrastructure in place, as Mirai and Nexo owners surely know better than anyone. But if there's a lithium squeeze coming that'll torpedo the EV revolution for a decade or two, it sure looks like a big opportunity for an alternative like hydrogen.

Which is why we though it might be worth highlighting what Afro-European brand NamX is working on with Pininfarina. Effectively, the two companies have developed a very neat-looking "hydrogen utility vehicle" (HUV) fueled by removable hydrogen cartridges. If you can't find a hydrogen station, NamX will send cartridges out to you at home, or wherever else you need them. And the company says you'll be able to use them to power other devices as well, in time.

Hydrogen cartridges can be removed by hand, refilled at a station, swapped at a shop, or send
Hydrogen cartridges can be removed by hand, refilled at a station, swapped at a shop, or sent out to your home

Each cartridge, when full, holds enough hydrogen to give you about 150 km (93 miles) of driving range. The HUV holds six, for a total range of 800 km (~500 miles). Pininfarina has designed this car from the back to the front, making these things an absolute visual highlight of the car in their green neon-lit slots behind a transparent cover above the rear bumper. They look amazing, I can imagine people craning their necks around Koeniggseggs to get a better look at them.

Performance-wise, these machines will be sprightly, but they won't trouble a powerful EV at the traffic light drags. A base model starting at around US$68,200 will rock a rear-wheel drive powertrain capable of 300 hp, a limited top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph), and a 0-100-km/h (0-62-mph) sprint time of 6.5 seconds. A GTH version ups this to all wheel drive, 500 hp, 250 km/h (155 mph) and 4.5 seconds, but it'll cost you up to US$99,600. Given the Italian good looks of this machine, the entry-level version looks like a pretty decent deal.

NamX is taking pre-orders already, but there's a lot of work to go before this concept car makes it through to production. The company is targeting its first deliveries for the start of 2026. Enjoy a render video below.

First 3D Introduction video of HUV

Source: NamX

View gallery - 5 images
27 comments
27 comments
WB
Fugly.. and not sure if shipping heavy hydrogen containers is cheaper
claudio
it puts a new meaning to "do not tailgate"
usugo
rapid estimate tells me that those cartridges should hold, at least, twice as much hydrogen as the tanks in the Mirai. So, unless they have developed some new revolutionary storing technology, their estimates are truly "optimistic".
Rick O
Don't get rear-ended.
Hopeful
Yet another new age vehicle for the top 5 percent. How nice for them.
Ishkatar
I guess the question is how much it costs to "fill up the tank"...
Mark T.
Most vehicle renderings have cool-looking vehicles, and this is no exception. The modules are cool-looking too and remind me of the power modules in the third Riddick movie. But coming back to reality, fuel cell vehicles cost about 10X per mile compared to BEVs. Let that sink in. Even worse, they also have much less horse-power for the money. A dual motor Tesla Model 3 has about 3-4 times the horse-power as a Toyota Mirai for the same money. The crux of your argument was we don't have enough lithium, this is simply incorrect. While current production will not be enough decades from now, Earth has plenty of lithium and production can be increased as needed.
Frankie Boy
And hydrogen is *still* the most mobile element in the universe and the hardest to contain. How long will those containers remain "charged"?
MikeRyanc95317ae2315443b
I'm not sure on how well this will work, but at least somebody is trying.

I like the idea of hydrogen powered vehicles from the safety and environmental aspects. The tanks used in vehicles are built to higher standards than gas tanks and if a tank is damaged the result is a geyser which looks scary but is much less dangerous than gasoline if ignited. When a gas tank is ruptured, the gas damages pavement and nearby ecosystems, which has to be dealt with. Plus, if ignited, gasoline flows and tends to ignite other nearby objects like cars, trucks, people etc.
ljaques
Pininfarina is trying to one-up the Pinto for rear end explosions? ;)
Interesting idea, interesting car, and has to be the boxiest Pin design yet.
Until we get even denser power from batteries, H2 seems like the best way to go long distances for both cars and planes.
Convert one in ten or twenty gasoline stations into gas stations and it could work.
I'll continue to hold out for a Mr. Fusion powered car/spaceship.
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