World’s largest hydrogen-taxi operator launching new fleet in Brussels as first step of international expansion

The world’s largest operator of hydrogen taxis is launching a new service in Brussels — the first step in Paris-based Hype’s plans to roll out zero-emission vehicle fleets across southwest Europe.

By the end of this year, the company will have more than 1,500 fuel-cell taxis and “several hundred” battery-electric taxis in Paris, where it has been operating for more than eight years.

The company is also planning to open six green-hydrogen refuelling stations in and near the French capital this year — and plans to deploy the same infrastructure around Brussels too.

However, it is yet to announce specific numbers for its hydrogen taxis or filling station plans in the Belgian capital — nor when the roll-outs will begin.

But it has said that its Brussels venture is being launched with hydrogen taxis adapted for wheelchair users — Peugeot e-Expert and Citroën ë-Jumpy fuel-cell vans that have been converted to seat six passengers without a wheelchair, or five passengers including one in a wheelchair.

It will also use Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo fuel-cell cars as taxis in Brussels. The Belgian capital will only allow zero-emission taxis on its streets from 1 January 2025.

Hype also aims to launch new hydrogen-taxi networks in 16 cities and regions by the end of 2026, starting in Brussels and followed by (in no particular order) Le Mans, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon and Porto to form “an Atlantic-Mediterranean hydrogen corridor” that includes green hydrogen filling stations.

“As we have done in Paris for eight years, we will now provide our customers in Brussels with a zero-emission, high-end, safe and responsible taxi service, at the same price as a polluting taxi,” said Hype founder and CEO Mathieu Gardies.

While fuel-cell vehicles using green hydrogen are likely to be more expensive to run than battery-electric equivalents — simply due to the energy losses when converting renewable electricity to hydrogen and back again inside a fuel cell — hydrogen taxis are said to benefit from much faster refuelling times.

While a battery-electric vehicle would have to sit idle for an hour or more to be fully charged (depending on the charger used), the hydrogen taxis can be filled up in three minutes to achieve a range of 400km, meaning that they can be operated around the clock with hardly any downtime.

However, there are currently no hydrogen refuelling stations inside Brussels, with the nearest one being in the municipality of Zaventem, about 13km from the city centre.

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