A European start-up working in collaboration with design house Pininfarina has unveiled a hydrogen-powered SUV, known as an HUV, and said the UAE is a priority market.
The NAMX HUV is said to be the world's first car partially powered by a patented removable hydrogen tank system. It is equipped with a fixed tank and six removable capsules providing autonomy of up to 800 kilometres.
It will come in two different versions: an entry-level, rear-wheel drive version with 300 horsepower for a top speed of 200kph and acceleration from 0 to 100kph in 6.5 seconds; and a four-wheel drive GTH version with 550hp for a top speed of 250kph and acceleration from 0 to 100kph in 4.5 seconds. The project is funded by private investors.
NAMX plans to have the car on the market in the fourth quarter of 2025, with a price range of between €65,000 ($67,708) and €95,000.
"NAMX offers new ways to provide green hydrogen access to end-customers and a new flexibility to recharge it, that contribute to decarbonise mobility," Mustapha Mokass, NAMX partner and board member, and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, told The National.
"The founders, teams and board members span across Africa, Middle East, and Europe, as green hydrogen will be at the core of a large Euro-med co-operation and NAMX intends to surf on the best expertise and driving forces of this entire ecosystem."
The company is also considering producing some parts of the car in the UAE given the country's leadership in green energy and digital artificial intelligence, he added.
"The UAE is a forward-thinking country and we could either base production of the vehicle or the hydrogen system in the Emirates."
New modes of zero-emissions transport and innovations to support alternative fuels have proliferated in the last decade as efforts towards energy transition accelerate. Mobility start-ups attracted an average of $37 billion in investment capital worldwide every year between 2015 and 2020, according to US consultancy Oliver Wyman.
Clean and renewable energy is a strategic priority for the UAE, with the country aiming to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. As part of its push into new energy sources, the UAE is also seeking to capture about 25 per cent of the global hydrogen market.
Mr Mokass said there are clear benefits for hydrogen-fuelled vehicles over electrically-powered cars such as Tesla.
"Firstly, to recharge a Tesla, you have to wait — it takes time," he said. "Secondly, you need to find a plug or a charging station to carry out the charging process. With this hydrogen fuelling system you can refuel in four minutes."
From a design perspective, the project started by focusing on the removable hydrogen tanks and understanding what would be the best way to integrate them into the car.
The NAMX HUV "could probably be the first car in Pininfarina’s history designed from the back to the front". It is also the first physical show car in the history of Pininfarina designed entirely digitally, the company said in a statement.
"Pininfarina is not only about pure design and style, it is also about innovation, user experience and bringing to life our vision of a sustainable future," said Paolo Pininfarina, president of Pininfarina.
The Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo are the only two mainstream hydrogen-powered cars on the market, although BMW and Land Rover are reportedly planning models in the next five years.
The NAMX HUV is set to be displayed at the Paris Motor Show later this year and is available for pre-order through the company's website.