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Jaguar Land Rover is growing a hydrogen-powered car

A Land Rover Defender is on display in Frankfurt am Main on the opening day of the IAA Frankfurt on September 10, 2019.

Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Jaguar Land Rover said Tuesday it was working on a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, with testing of the concept scheduled to begin later this year.

The vehicle is based on the company’s new version of the company’s Land Rover Defender and is part of JLR’s broader effort to meet its goal of zero tailpipe emissions by 2036. The vehicle’s tests focus on areas such as fuel economy and off-road capabilities.

In an announcement, the Tata Motors-owned company described fuel cell electric vehicles as “complementary to battery electric vehicles … on the road to net-zero vehicle emissions.”

“Hydrogen-powered FCEVs offer high energy density and fast refueling, as well as minimal loss of range at low temperatures, making the technology ideal for larger vehicles with longer range or those operating in hot or cold environments,” the company added.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

As governments try to reduce emissions and improve urban air quality, the vehicles people use are likely to change.

The UK, for example, plans to stop selling new diesel and gasoline vehicles from 2030. From 2035, all new cars and vans must be emission-free.

Companies like JLR are slowly but surely trying to adapt to this new reality. Earlier this year, the company announced that its Jaguar brand will be fully electric by 2025. The company also said its Land Rover segment will launch six “all-electric variants” over the next five years.

The “role of hydrogen”

Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier”, hydrogen has a wide range of possible uses and can be used in sectors such as industry and transport.

Examples of use in the transport sector are hydrogen buses in cities like London and Aberdeen, but hydrogen fuel cell planes have also blown up in recent years.

As recently as last week, plans to build a hydrogen fuel cell powered maritime ferry moved ahead after it was announced that a commercial contract to develop a concept design had been awarded.

“We know hydrogen will play a role in the future powertrain mix across the transportation industry and alongside battery-electric vehicles,” said Ralph Clague, Head of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells at Jaguar Land Rover.

Clague added that it offers “yet another zero-tailpipe solution for the specific capabilities and needs” of JLR’s range of vehicles.

Jaguar Land Rover isn’t the only automotive company involved in hydrogen-powered vehicles. Other manufacturers that have entered the hydrogen fuel cell market include Toyota and Honda, while smaller companies like Riversimple are also working on hydrogen-powered cars.

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