Little-known startup H2X Global says it plans to introduce hydrogen power to the Ford Ranger at a plant in Victoria’s Gippsland region as part of the latest local effort to develop a zero-emissions car.
A little-known company has joined the race between several Australian startups to mass-produce a zero-emissions car for commercial buyers.
In 2020, Melbourne is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCEV) specialist. H2X Global announced its production plans Varrego ute at Port Kembla, south of Sydney – and promised to have a demo car ready within a few months.
While the company says the H2X Global Warrego is still undergoing inspection and testing in the Netherlands to be certified for Europe and global markets, the Australian company says local testing will begin soon.
If the Warrego is approved for local roads, H2X Global now says Australian production could take place in the Victorian town of Sale – about three hours east of Melbourne – rather than Port Kembla.
H2X Global is the third Australian start-up to announce zero-emissions plans, following Roev and Sea Electric, which plan to locally modify electric vehicles based on the best-selling Toyota HiLux.
Based on the previous generation Ford Ranger, H2X Global replaced the donor diesel engine with a 260 kW electric motor and a 60 kW hydrogen fuel cell complete with a supercapacitor hybrid system.
The supercapacitor, previously featured in the Lamborghini Sian concept, can be charged and discharged faster than the traditional lithium-ion batteries found in most electric vehicles, while also having a longer lifespan.
The electric motor is connected to a standard Ford Ranger transfer case, which allows the hydrogen fuel cell to retain all-wheel drive.
The hydrogen is stored in a tank made of advanced polymer and carbon fiber, the pressure of which reaches 700 bar, which provides a range of up to 450 km on a full tank.
In September 2021, H2X Global announced that the Warrego will be priced from $189,900 plus on-road costs in the ‘Warrego 66’ trim, to $235,000 for the mid-range ’90 model and $250,000 for the flagship ’90 XR”.
The company says it received 250 orders from commercial customers for the Warrego within four days, but the hydrogen prices were later removed from the H2X Global website.
According to H2X Global, the company prefers manufacturing in Europe over Australia because of the availability of hydrogen and government support for zero-emission vehicles.
European production of the H2X Global Warrego was originally scheduled to begin in April 2022, but supply chain issues delayed its debut.
“It is extremely exciting that our team now has the Warrego passing the final stages of its technical, safety and road test program as well as production readiness,” H2X Global CEO Brendan Norman said in a media statement.
“We’ve really had some frustrating delays over the past nine months; however, we are now well on track with our implementation plans.
“The supply chain issues that have negatively impacted manufacturing companies around the world have put us approximately nine months behind schedule; however, our manufacturing and engineering teams have done a great job to overcome these issues and we are now back on schedule.”
H2X Global says Warrego is demonstrating the company’s hydrogen fuel cell technology, saying it will be producing hydrogen fuel cell commercial vehicles and taxis by 2025.
“The Warrego is essentially a demonstration vehicle that we can offer to a number of customers to accelerate the availability of four-wheel drive light commercial vehicles for customers using a state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell hybrid system,” Mr Norman said.
“This program will be applied in a more optimized form in the Darling Delivery Van and taxi/MPV (people-mover), designed to support the large number of European cities that will be closed to diesel and petrol cars from 2025.”
In August 2022, cars such as the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and Isuzu D-Max occupied four of the top 10 positions in the Australian new car sales charts.
Despite local demand for utes, there are currently no electric cars in Australia.
However, Chinese carmaker LDV recently announced plans to launch its eT60 electric car in Australia later this year, becoming the first manufacturer to offer a local zero-emissions double cab.