Al-Futtaim Motors, the distributor of Toyota and the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in the UAE, has inaugurated the UAE’s first hydrogen re-fuelling station, in partnership with France’s Air Liquide, a leading provider of hydrogen technology.
Located at Dubai Festival City, the hydrogen station will enable the expansion of a fuel cell vehicle pilot programme – announced in January 2017 at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and beginning in May 2017 – aiming at testing the utility of the zero-emission technology on UAE roads.
The initiative is part of a collaborative study between Al Futtaim Motors, Toyota and Air Liquide into the feasibility of establishing a hydrogen-based society in the UAE as a means of lowering the country’s vehicle emissions in line with the UAE Vision 2021.
Toyota’s electric propulsion system is available in both its hybrid cars and FCEVs, such as the Toyota Mirai, which are run on hydrogen rather than petrol and emit only water from the tail pipe – after the onboard fuel cell stack combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to generate electricity.
Bertrand Thiebaut, senior MD of Al-Futtaim Motors and senior VP of the Al-Futtaim Automotive Group, explained: “The pilot which started with only three Toyota Mirai vehicles, will soon expand to involve a larger fleet that will be tested by key stakeholders in the UAE.
“With the inauguration of the UAE’s first hydrogen station in partnership with Air Liquide, we are one step closer to a low-carbon society, as we work towards a concrete contribution to a cleaner air, in line with the Government’s green agenda.”
Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, the Toyota Mirai delivers a performance that competes with traditional petrol engine cars, does not require external electric charging, can be refilled with hydrogen in less than five minutes and is able to travel 500km on a full tank.
Once deployed on a larger scale, the fuel cell electric vehicle technology has the potential to significantly reduce the UAE’s dependence on oil and lower car-generated pollution levels.
If the hydrogen production cycle could be integrated with nuclear or renewable energy power sources, the potential reduction in not only emissions, but carbon footprint, could be profound.
Matthieu Giard, executive VP for Africa, Middle East and India at Air Liquide, noted: “Air Liquide is developing clean transport solutions to help reduce the environmental footprint. Hydrogen is a key enabler for improving air quality and achieving an effective transition to a low-carbon economy.
“This first hydrogen station is a first step for a large-scale deployment of hydrogen energy in this region. We are proud to bring our expertise and technology to create a more sustainable society, allowing all parties to contribute to meeting energy and environmental targets.”