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Peugeot, Citroen, Opel to launch hybrid hydrogen-battery vans

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PARIS — Stellantis will launch hybrid hydrogen and battery-electric medium commercial vans from Peugeot, Citroen and Opel by the end of the year, with the promise of 400 km (250 miles) of range and a fill-up time of about three minutes.

The “mid-power” hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain on the Citroen Jumpy, Opel Vivaro and Peugeot Expert could be extended to passenger cars, the company said on Wednesday during an online event.

Stellantis says its hybrid drivetrain eliminates some of the drawbacks of pure hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrains, such as those on vehicles from Hyundai and Toyota, including high costs. It is working with partners including supplier Faurecia and Symbio, a joint venture of Faurecia and tiremaker Michelin.

Renault has also committed to hydrogen in commercial vans. It now sells a fuel cell version of the Kangoo small van, and plans to offer larger commercial vans by 2022 with a hybrid electric/hydrogen drivetrain, through a partnership with Plug Power that also includes fueling stations.

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Stellantis says its hybrid system saves money by using an existing full-electric van platform. Three 700-bar hydrogen tanks take the place of long-range batteries under the floor, conserving cargo space. 

A small fuel cell stack powers an electric motor, which can be recharged by a version of the plug-in hybrid system used on Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and DS models. Stellantis says that if hydrogen refueling is not available, the vans can go 50 km (31 miles) on battery power alone. A small battery is under the passenger compartment.

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Another advantage to having battery electric power is that it allows the fuel cells to operate in optimum conditions, increasing efficiency and durability, Stellantis says. The vans start in full-electric mode for the first mile and the battery is used to bolster acceleration. The system was developed in Ruesselsheim, Germany, the hometown of the Opel brand.

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