Technology comes from Symbio FCell, and there is one clear goal utilizing it – to guarantee La Poste electric minivans reach remote regions in severe conditions...
OK, test is going to start in the beginning of 2014, but adding a "gas" system sounds a bit weird to us, providing ZOE, for example, already has advanced heating pump.
La Poste uses some electric minivans for deliveries in remote mountain regions. And because we know from personal experience how much current Kangoo Z.E. draws uphill, we absolutely agree range needs to be extended. We were able to drive 140 km on a single charge from Sofia to Plovdiv (the highway has some quite hilly sections), but our average speed was around 40 km/h.
But the newest Kangoo Z.E. is too fresh to make changes so there's no way it gets the ZOE heating pump soon. There's no bigger battery either, so fuel cell sounds like an option.
As with 2013 LEAF we're not talking about longer range, but a guaranteed one. By adding a hydrogen fuel cell module, the goal is to ensure electric vans can run up to 100 km in tougher conditions – like cold winter days in the mountains.
the hydrogen fuel cell system
It is called Symbio FCell range extender modular system and ranges from 5 kW to 20 kW (based on 5 kW stacks). And that answers the question we asked ourselves above. Is it appropriate to install a new system, instead of adding another battery (or advanced heat pump)? Yes, because modules make it cost efffective. You want 5kW, you pay less. Need 20kW, you pony up the extra cash. Must be cheaper than battery modules, otherwise they wouldn't go for hydrogen...
According to Symbio, the system is universal – can be adapted to different EV specs. Well, yeah, it makes no sense to limit the applications.
We'll keep our fingers crossed for the project, and our eyes open for more info some time next year. Hundred kilometers may not be that much, but having these guaranteed up in the cold mountain in an EV, without compromises, is much better than 50/50 (range/top speed).