Symbio FCell Expects To Deliver 1,000 Fuel Cell Kangoos In 2016

JUL 29 2015 BY MARK KANE 34

Renault Kangoo Z.E. with Symbio FCell's hydrogen fuel cell range-extender

Renault Kangoo Z.E. with Symbio FCell’s hydrogen fuel cell range-extender

Symbio FCell is expecting fast growth of its hydrogen fuel cell business in France.

After delivering over 50 vehicles like the Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 and even a Renault Maxity Electric truck with 20 kW hydrogen-powered range extender, the company aims for 200 units this year.

The plan for 2016 is even bigger – over 1,000 cars, mostly for fleets. We believe that orders for hundreds could flow from La Poste.

In early 2016, the company plans to switch to the 700 bar systems developed by Michelin, which is one of the shareholders of Symbio FCell. Another French company that will be happy is Renault, supplying Kangoo for transplantion.

10 June 2015: The largest fleet of electric/hydrogen vehicles in Europe goes live in Grenoble

The HyWay project has reached another important milestone with twenty-one new Kangoo ZE-H2 utility vehicles, equipped with Symbio FCell range extender, now fully operational in Grenoble. This comes in addition to the vehicles already successfully deployed in Lyon. HyWay is the largest fleet of electric/hydrogen utility vehicles currently operated on a daily basis in Europe. With the financial backing of ADEME (French national energy management), the Rhône-Alpes regional government and the European Funds FEDER, this project establishes a unique and innovative model of simultaneous deployment of hydrogen stations serving multi-customers captive fleets. This deployment model is recommended in the French Hydrogen Mobility study.

By the end of 2015: almost 200 Kangoo ZE-H2 equipped by Symbio FCell will be on-stream in Europe

This project can be easily replicated across Europe and is increasingly well followed with nearly 30 cities in France having already applied. The first deployments have received financial contributions from Regions, ADEME, Europe FCH-JU2, and CEF/Ten-T.

Horizon 2016: Existing demands allow Symbio FCell to start volume production of at least 1000 vehicles for 2016

Following the first deployments initiated in 2015, some major operators are planning to extend their deployments to a few hundred vehicles in each of their fleets. The new developments will be based on the simultaneous implementation of commercial vehicle fleets, according to the H2 Mobility France cluster model. In 2016, those vehicles will be equipped with the latest Fuel Cell Stack developed by Michelin, in a more powerful system with extended functionality. To support the deployment at European level, a 700 bar Range Extender version will be available early 2016.”

Categories: General, Renault


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34 Comments on "Symbio FCell Expects To Deliver 1,000 Fuel Cell Kangoos In 2016"

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1000 “fool cell” vans sold in just one year? By a company in France? I seriously doubt they could sell that many even in Japan, let alone France.

Every FCEV maker has reported lower than expected sales. I seriously doubt this case will be any different.

These are plug-in hybrids with 22 kWh batteries and small fuel cell stacks and small hydrogen tanks so they make more sense than a pure fuel cell car. They are also designed for fleet use so they only need one hydrogen station rather than a network of stations. I’m not saying the fuel cell part of the equation actually makes sense. But at least these cars get most of their power and energy from a battery rather than a fuel cell stack.

This is only using it as a range extender. This idea works for fleets, because fleets always end up at the same place, so it is easy to have a centralized fueling station that has a guaranteed amount of demand. Making it into a range extender reduces the amount of power the fuel cell needs to provide.

It’s different for passenger cars because the station doesn’t have guaranteed demand in that case and people live spread out. That’s why I’m skeptical about fuel cell range extenders being a workable idea.

Wraithnot and JakeY:

Thanks, and yes I do understand this is a plug-in hybrid FCEV. We appear to have a difference of opinion on this: You think the distinction is important, and I don’t.


It seems that what you’re saying is that sales will be restricted to existing fleets already equipped with a hydrogen fueling station, which the article certainly implies even if it doesn’t come right out and state that explicitly. My thinking is the same as yours on this point, but that doesn’t change my point that there isn’t nearly enough of a market to sell 1000 of these vehicles in a single year.

I’ve used a similar car for over a year now. It works good for us. We have the same starting position every day, and the car is fully fueled and charged. During lunch, the car is charged again – and it does the job. When my shift is almost over I start to charge it, while I finish paperwork, orders parts and empty the trash from the car. The other worker in the second shift, starts his day with some paperwork, and get a fully charged car when he starts. In the evening/night when he is done for the day – he start to charge the car again, and it is ready for me the next day. Is is really cheap to run, with low mainenance costs. The deal we signed says we have to pay about 145 dollars in maintenance a year. That includes break parts, windscreen wipers, and fluid, but excludes tires. The rest is covered in the deal. It is used 6 days a week, for two shifts. Usually we only fill up the hydrogen tank once a week. But it depends on where we drive, the ability to charge and so on. Usually we do paperwork… Read more »

Is there some advantage to a hydrogen fuel cell, over an ethanol fuel cell range extender?

Zero CO2 tailpipe emissions, and zero upstream CO2 emissions if the H2 is made from France’s nuclear powered electricity.

If you don’t count the radioactive waste from the reactors who’s economic costs and long term storage and containment issues are going to have to be dealt with at some point. Nuclear while perhaps clean as far as C02 harbors a much deadlier problem but it is an easier can to kick down the road.

Yep, zero CO2.

The lifetime waste issues with nuclear also seem quite tractable.

The amount of waste they generate is relatively small vs other non-renewables.

Unlike the US, France is dealing with the issue radioactive waste storage, and not kicking the can down the road. They are testing a deep underground repository in clay. If all goes well and final approval is granted, the first waste could be inserted there in around 10 years.

Depends what you mean wrt ethanol fuel cell range extender. If it is a reforming system then the issues relate to long start-up time, cost, reliability and life time. If you are talking about direct ethanol fuel cells then the issues relate to completely consuming the ethanol and poisoning of the catalysts.

I think in terms of technology maturity direct hydrogen fuel cells are way a head of the pack for cars.

Anybody knows the price of these bad boys?


In terms of rough numbers for small scale production people typically use $3000-3500 per kW and $10-15 per kWh.

So a 5 kW system with a 100 l 700 bar tank (the Kangoo van extender with an extra 70 kWh) would cost some where between $15k to $18k. At a 1000 units a year this is still a field trial so the cost may be much higher but those are numbers people use.

At $250 per kWh for a battery the rex and battery option would cost about the same up front. The fueling cost of the H2 option would be 3-4 times higher than for the battery option but the “refueling” for the vehicle would be much faster and the weight of the fuel cell system should be much lower, although some of the early symbio systems were pretty heavy.

A Kangoo with 24kWh battery and a 20kW H2 fuel cell is more of a battery vehicle than a BMW iREX with a 22kWh battery and a 25kW gasoline generator.

well, they are very close to each other in EV range, one has lightly processed fossil fuel, the other uses a highly processed fossil fuel.

The Kangoo has a 5 kW fuel cell range extender not a 20 kW Rex, that is for the larger truck.

I am intrigued to know which is the lightly processed fossil fuel and which is the highly processed fossil fuel?

Just_Chris, thanks for the correction, yes it is a 5kW H2 fuel cell.

Sven, “Only 1% of the hydrogen produced in France is obtained using electrolysis technology. ”

France’s hydrogen production is even more fossil fuel based than USAs. Hydrogen really, really is just a highly processed fossil fuel.

You do realise that the main use for hydrogen is to turn heavy oil fractions, tar and coal into petrol? (the other main use is fertiliser production, for bio-fuels including food, and explosives for the mining of the minerals required for the rest of the car)

I am certainly not advocating the use of natural gas for hydrogen production but the fuel in the i3’s range extender is more highly processed than hydrogen used to make it.

Definitely not. The EROI for converting petroleum to gasoline is something like 10:1 or better, which means only about 1 unit of energy needs to go into refining/processing the petroleum to make gasoline. So yeah, it’s accurate to call it a “lightly processed fossil fuel”.

Contrariwise, processing natural gas into hydrogen fuel is very energy-intensive, at an EROI rate of about 1:1.5 …in other words, it takes about one-and-a-half times as much energy as the hydrogen contains, to produce that hydrogen and put it through all the steps needed to get it into the car in compressed form so it can be used as fuel. So yeah, that would indeed make “frackogen”, or hydrogen reformed from natural gas, a “highly processed fossil fuel”, as well as a highly wasteful and highly polluting one.

Edit: …only about 1 unit of energy needs to go into refining/processing the petroleum to produce the gasoline, for every 10 units of energy contained in that gasoline.

I did mention that natural gas isn’t my preferred method of making hydrogen? I think that it is really interesting to see that people consider hydrogen more refined than petrol. It tells me a lot about what people are thinking on the subject. The energy return on investment is always a bit of a dark murky world full of assumptions and fudge factors. The 10 to 1 ratio is for light sweet crude oil to petrol not for “unconventional gas” to petrol which is increasingly how petrol is made in the US. I don’t have a number for this process but considering the first step is to convert the natural gas into syn-gas (CO and H2) before using a Fischer-Tropsch process to make the petrol I suspect that the energy return on investment is not that different to hydrogen. I would think that there is a wide enough spectrum of modeled results that the 2 processes would overlap in terms of energy return. The biggest variable would probably be what type of car you put the fuel in as the difference between ICE vehicle efficiency is pretty enormous where as most FC vehicles should be pretty good so if you… Read more »


I asked about “transportation-grade hydrogen” (for lack of a better term) which must be practically pure hydrogen. Like Just Chris alluded to, the vast majority of hydrogen made is used in refining crude or making fertilizer and is low-grade hydrogen that has many impurities and contaminants, which would poison a hydrogen fuel cell without further purification.

Your link even mentions new uses requiring purer hydrogen, one of which is a fuel cell. Your link then mention research being done to lower production costs using “high-temperature (or steam) electrolysis at 700 to 800 °C.” Since France generates almost all of its electricity with nuclear reactors, it would be the ideal place to use both the high-temperature steam and the electricity from the nuclear reactors for high-temperature electrolysis to make lower cost hydrogen.

From your link:
“Only 1% of the hydrogen produced in France is obtained using electrolysis technology. But as new uses for hydrogen energy emerge, requiring purer hydrogen, the horizons for this technology are broadening. R&D work aims to lower production costs, especially by using high-temperature (or steam) electrolysis at 700 to 800 °C.”

Is H2 still considered a fossil fuel if it is made by electrolysis from France’s excess nuclear powered electricity?

Does anyone know how France is making its transportation-grade hydrogen; via electrolysis, bio-gas, or steam reformed methane?

The EU grid is essentially a single grid with weak points heading to the UK and a few other nations towards the edge of the network. This means that Germany’s 26 GW’s of solar is as much Frances problem as Germany’s problem. Similarly the excess power produced from Frances Nuclear stations at night is an issue for Germany. Same goes for Spanish, Danish, UK, German, etc. wind.

The hydrogen “vision” for the EU is to use excess renewable energy to produce hydrogen which can then be used for transport or stored for other uses (power-to-gas, etc..). The EU are investing around a billion euros to demonstrate large scale hydrogen production from electrolysis and some of these projects are now coming on stream. The only one relating to transport I know of (please correct me if I am wrong) is the Siemens 6 MW plant in Germany. I am sure there will be others in the next few years.

There isn’t the same political angle to Fuel cells vs Batteries in the EU with the technologies seen far more as complimentary rather than competitive.

I’m not seeing how using electricity to generate hydrogen via electrolysis, then using more electricity to compress it, then using more electricity to pump it into a “fool cell” and re-compress it, with hydrogen leaking away at every step — and in some cases needing transport via diesel-powered tanker trucks in between generation and dispensing station — is “complimentary” with using that same electricity to simply and efficiently charge batteries in a plug-in EV.

That’s like saying that using gasoline to heat a boiler to operate an especially inefficient steam engine is “complimentary” with using that same gasoline in a relatively efficient ICEngine. It’s not complimentary; it’s unnecessarily wasteful and expensive.

FCEV are significantly less efficient than a BEV – probably 4 times less efficient. Just like a Model S is significantly less efficient than a Twizy. Just like a Range rover sport is significantly less efficient than a smart car. Public transport is far more efficient than driving. A diesel focus is more efficient than a petrol focus. A coal fired power station is more efficient than a solar panel (note – I am not advocating removing solar panels and burning coal, I am just demonstrating that efficiency is not the only metric). Why would you use a technology that is vastly less efficient than an alternative technology? because it offers something the other technology dose not. In this case the options you have are a diesel van or a range extended BEV van running on a FC. The battery van does not have the range or refueling options of the other alternatives. Air pollution is not an insignificant issue in France the FCEV offers an alternative that produces zero emissions whilst driving. If we are going to get to zero emissions in EU cities there are going to have to be a large number of vehicles developed in order… Read more »

Jup, reduce the Co2, Co, particles and so on. The most efficient car is not always bought, other factors are also important. Good to see development for a cheap electric range extended car.

Hydrogen range is cheaper, and i dont get how you intend to bring the masses of BEVs the Moment the Wind blows… Hydrogen storage is the easiest way and will hold for more than a few thousend cycles.

“. . . to demonstrate large scale hydrogen production . . . . The only one relating to transport I know of (please correct me if I am wrong) is the Siemens 6 MW plant in Germany.”

There are also small scale hydrogen production projects that will partially use excess renewable energy to make hydrogen onsite via electrolysis at a gasoline station. It appears as though the grid operator will be able start (control) the electrolyzer at the gasoline station when there is excess renewable electricity and the H2 tank is not full. One such gasoline station is in Hamburg in the video below. The relevant part starts at about :52 seconds in.

It would be ironic if this plugin Kangoo outsold all other H2 vehicles in 2016

Lol, yeah Toyota outsold by a small France company. Go Symbol, tell Toyota that every FCVH needs a recent (>16 kWh) Battery!!!

Price / costs is the bottom line.
A EV can be made very cheap, as soon as price for batteris drop. ( Like flat screen TVs nowdays.
EV cars are very cheap to make and there a lot less service required.
EV of the future will cost less than a ICE car. I mean in the near future like in 5 years from now.

Anyone notice the details of the fueling station? Note two banks of conventional portable H2 compressed gas cylinders – similar to the portable O2 cylinders used in portable welding stations or medical gas systems. I had assumed they’d have a single bulk compressed H2 tank at an FCV filling station that could be re-filled by a delivery truck.

These H2 cylinders, at least in the US, when empty would have to be disconnected, removed, taken back to the central gas plant, re-filled, and returned and re-installed at the fill station. I’m sure they have a backup bank at the fill station that kicks in when the primary bank is empty, but man, what a labor-intensive effort, not to mention all the diesel or gasoline burned in the delivery trucks to pick up the empties and deliver the full cylinders.

And this isn’t even looking at the other inefficiencies and costs of hydrogen.

But maybe they do it different in France. Maybe they can manifold a bunch of cylinders and then refill in the field without disconnection.

Cool, didn’t saw this. A cheap movable hydrogen Station.

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