Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Every hydrogen powered car available

Hydrogen cars, the gas guzzlers of the future.

As far as chemicals go, hydrogen is a lot like Adele’s music: inescapable by virtue of being absolutely everywhere. It’s the most abundant chemical in the universe, and can be produced as a gas or liquid, or made part of another material. Like a roll of gaffer tape, it’s the chemical that can pretty much do anything, and none of us can really live without it. 

Considering hydrogen’s ubiquity, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that car companies and clever engineer types have been working on harnessing it to make hydrogen-powered cars, which, along with electric vehicles, are staking a claim as the future of transport as the world moves away from polluting internal-combustion vehicles. 

A major selling point is that hydrogen can be produced in Australia using renewable energy or processes, which has the potential to significantly reduce harmful emissions caused by the transport sector. In fact, the only emissions a hydrogen car creates is a small amount of water vapour and a few droplets at the exhaust pipe. No stinky gases at all, in fact. 

A small fleet of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) are being trialled in Canberra - perhaps our greenest city - by the ACT Government, which has a semi-public hydrogen fuelling station available, one of only three in the whole country at this point. 

The only other refuelling stations are one at the Hyundai HQ in Sydney (Hyundai is a major player in hydrogen cars at this point, thanks to its nifty Nexo FCEV) and another at a Toyota centre in Melbourne. 

More are on the way, a lot more, with Australia’s hydrogen project - which is triple the size of the next biggest, in Germany and the Netherlands - set to help things along. 

The first commercial green hydrogen refuelling station is currently being developed on a site in Melbourne’s west, with the plan for a network of them between there and Sydney. 

Other hydrogen refuelling stations are due to arrive in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in the next two to three years.

Hydrogen cars: what are they? 

Simply put, vehicles powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, a power-generating system that requires constant inputs of both compressed hydrogen and oxygen to work (water, as mentioned, being the only resulting emission from the tailpipe). 

The hydrogen then creates electricity that charges an onboard battery pack and/or powers an electric motor to drive the wheels. In essence, you have a power station on board with you, which turns hydrogen into electricity as you drive, and powers what is, underneath all that, an electric vehicle.

As an added bonus, a hydrogen fuel cell system requires fewer precious metals than regular electric vehicles, plus it’s also lighter, and can be scaled up to power a truck or a train. 

An eco-friendly replacement for diesel power? It’s certainly one of hydrogen’s big selling points, and some people believe the near future of transport will shake out as being mainly EVs for short journeys and city life, while hydrogen cars will cope with heavy haulage, trucks, vans and cars for longer trips.

The one main sticking point is the fact that hydrogen loses a considerable amount of energy during creation - around 25 per cent is lost during electrolysis, and a further 15 per cent during compression, plus even more once it’s used for fuel. 

List of hydrogen-powered cars available in Australia

Hyundai Nexo

The Nexo SUV has bragging rights as the first hydrogen FCEV to go on-sale in Australia, although it’s firmly parked in the exclusive VIP section of the car market, since they’re only available to the government or big fleet businesses happy to install a hydrogen filling station. It also means there’s currently no retail price for private buyers, but in Korea, where it’s been or sale since 2018, it sells for the equivalent of $84,000. 

Packing a 95kW hydrogen fuel cell with battery and an electric motor with an output of 120kW/395Nm, it has 156.5 litres of onboard hydrogen gas storage, which offers a considerable driving range of 666km (Satan is apparently interested in buying one). 

But the real benefit is that, unlike current EVs, it’s extremely quick to fill it up, taking only a few minutes, compared to the average EV, which can take as little as 30 minutes, or as much as 12 hours, to charge. 

Toyota Mirai

The updated, second-generation version of the Toyota Mirai FCEV is available in Australia as part of a trial program, which costs $63,000 over a three-year period, including refuelling costs. Drivers who take part would want to be based in Victoria, though, since Toyota’s Altona site is the only place where they can top-up the car. 

Looking more like a large luxury sedan compared to the first generation Mirai, which had a bit of Prius in its looks, the Mark II Mirai has taken more of a design lead from Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota.

The Mirai’s electric motor outputs are 134kW/300Nm (compared to 120kW/395Nm in the Nexo), and it has 141 litres of onboard hydrogen gas storage, enabling a driving range of 650km (a shade below the Nexo’s 666km), which is a 30 per cent improvement on the first Mirai due to the use of three hydrogen tanks instead if two. 

H2X Warrego

Deliveries of this his hydrogen-powered ute from Australian hydrogen FCEV start-up H2X Global are expected in April 2022, although they’re already available for pre-order. 

People will have to be pretty keen on the new tech, though, since the prices are far from cheap: the Warrego 66, which comes in two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, starts at $189,000, plus on-road costs, and the Warrego 90 and 90 XR start from $235,000 and $250,000, plus on-road costs, respectively (those two are due in late-2022). 

H2X Global is making some big moves, though: it has partnered with the Gippsland Circular Economy Precinct (GCEP) to manufacture hydrogen fuel cells, electrolysers, hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles and hydrogen power units.

As for driving range, a 6.2kg on-board tank will offer 500km, or 750km from a bigger 9.3kg tank.

Again, the biggest problem will be finding somewhere to fill it up.

The future of hydrogen fuel cell cars

Hyundai’s next-generation fuel-cell drivetrain technology will start coming to Australia as of 2023, with the Korean car company claiming that the price of fuel cells could drop by up to 50 per cent by 2030. There are also plans for an FCEV version of the stylish and futuristic-looking Staria people-mover, plus at least one Kia and Genesis FCEV model each by 2025. 

Adding to the list of hydrogen cars, Ineos Automotive has also announced an FCEV version of its Grenadier off-roader - although don’t expect it any time soon, since tests of the vehicle won’t start until late-2022. A hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender is also in the works.