Fuel cell technology for electric vans

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Proton Power Systems, which is developing fuel cell technology, is to collaborate with Smith Electric on a battery-powered van, equipped with a Proton Power fuel cell system as a range extender. The collaboration will aim to supply systems to local authorities and other fleet operators across Germany initially, and will address projects in the UK and North America.

The PM200 fuel cell will be used on Smith’s Edison electric van to  improve the range of vehicle operation from 160km to up to 300 km enabling the vehicles to have a wider application within large fleets.

It will also provide an on-board electrical supply which will boost the ease of maintenance work, improving a vehicle’s suitability for every-day back-to-base applications, while also supporting auxiliary functions such as air conditioning and heating.

Proton Power and Smith will present the first prototype at the Hannover Fair in April 2010 and  plan to roll out the vehicle in transport and maintenance applications across German municipalities, with the first vehicles due to be delivered in the last quarter of 2010.

The German hydrogen and electric vehicle promotion organisation (‘NOW’) – backed by the German government – is  interested in providing funding support to operators of electric vehicle fleets and local authorities in Germany for the purchase of up to 20 vehicles with specifications similar to the prototype which will be presented at the Hannover Fair.

Thomas Melczer, CEO of Proton Power, said: “Our partnership with Smith Electric Vehicles is a major milestone for the Group. Fuel cell range extenders are an attractive option for overcoming the current problems of electric vehicles. There are strong initiatives, such as NOW, in Europe towards the adoption of electric vehicles and there is also considerable interest in the United States and Canada. We aim to use our fuel cell range extender to help electric vehicle manufacturers such as Smith break further into these markets.”

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