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Fuel cell Renault van set for London trial

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A Renault van powered by a hydrogen fuel cell rather than a diesel engine or a standalone battery is set to go into service in the British capital as part of a trial for the delivery firm CitySprint.

The company is seeking to swap its entire arsenal of commercial vehicles for zero-emissions equivalents in order to minimise its carbon footprint and cut costs.

Spokesperson Patrick Gallagher said that the efforts to make urban delivery work greener had been ongoing for the past five months, with this trial set to drive down harmful emissions even further.

Fuel cell vehicles are seen as perhaps the most practical alternative to traditional LCVs because they not only produce no damaging gasses or substances during operation but also offer the ability to refuel in seconds rather than requiring hours of charging time between journeys.

The van will be used in London until the summer of 2018, at which point its performance will be assessed and a decision about whether or not to adopt more models with similar power trains will be made.

The eco-friendly set-up consists of a fuel cell which converts hydrogen and air into energy. This can either be used to power onboard motors or to provide a charge to integrated batteries, meaning the van can travel for up to 200 miles before it needs to be refuelled.

CitySprint has also been switching from using small vans and equivalent vehicles to electric courier bikes which can haul loads weighing up to 50 kilos. Because they take up less space on the road and can move between static lanes of traffic, they also improve productivity and reduce congestion in one fell swoop.

Its eco-oriented fleet now consists of four vans which are powered solely by electricity, 22 of the aforementioned bikes and now this new Renault LCV which has a hydrogen fuel cell at its heart. And while London will initially be used as a proving ground for this vehicle, it could also be rolled out in other cities around the country.