Toyota’s hydrogen-powered car to be put through its paces in the UAE

Adnoc and Masdar are among the companies collaborating to promote fuel cell vehicles.

The Toyota Mirai on display at the Paris auto show in September. Benoit Tessier / Reuters
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Abu Dhabi’s top energy companies will collaborate with Toyota to promote the use of hydrogen-powered cars in the Emirates.

The region's first hydrogen station will be built as part of a programme involving Adnoc, Masdar, Toyota distributor Al Futtaim Motors and France's Air Liquide, an industrial gas service provider. Once the station is completed Toyota's Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV) will be put through its paces under extreme test conditions. Al Futtaim did not disclose the location of the hydrogen station, construction of which begins in May.

Research will also be undertaken at the Masdar Institute on hydrogen production and the feasibility of creating a hydrogen-based society, according to Al Futtaim.

Government entities will be able to obtain a short-term lease of the vehicle to better understand FCVs. Last year, the Mirai underwent technical testing in the UAE and a small demo hydrogen station was set up at Al Futtaim’s Al Badia location.

A hydrogen FCV produces power when the gas reacts with oxygen, generating electricity. The vehicle fuels up much like a conventional car rather than being plugged in. The 2016 Mirai model has a range of 502 kilometres on a full tank of hydrogen. Electric cars typically have much shorter ranges and take longer to charge.

The Mirai emits only water.

In 2013, road transport accounted for 22 per cent of the UAE’s CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions. Last year, it ratified the Paris Agreement, where 195 countries committed to reducing global warming to 2°C below pre-industrial levels, and emissions must be significantly reduced in the next five years if the UAE is to meet its commitments.

However, hydrogen has its critics, including the electric car pioneer Elon Musk. He has questioned the viability of hydrogen as a fuel. Almost all hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, which critics say undermines its ability to help reduce carbon emissions. Only about 4 per cent is produced from water.

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