Fleet managers waiting for Hydrogen to become viable for net zero could be disappointed because hydrogen is still not a realistic alternative to electric vans, said the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

AFP chair Paul Hollick stated that many minority fleet managers were waiting when Hydrogen could become viable in the short-medium term.

Fleet managers looking for alternatives to electric-powered vehicles mainly operate light commercial vehicles, the organisation said.

“Electric is effectively the only option when it comes to the future of zero emissions vans in the UK for at least the next decade. Hydrogen is simply not happening in any meaningful way and there is no real sign of that situation changing,” he said.

Hollick highlighted the lack of hydrogen fuelling infrastructure, limited availability of vehicles, the high cost of available hydrogen-powered vehicles and a minimal level of investment in this fuel type to support his claim.

“Elsewhere, such as in Germany, there is significant state support for the expansion of hydrogen but government commitment here is low. It is clear that as far as the vast majority of road transport is concerned, our politicians see electric as the future. Fleets waiting for hydrogen to emerge as a realistic alternative are almost certainly set for disappointment,” Hollick added.

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Hollick said that a sizable number of fleet operators are aware of the limitations they will face while replacing traditional vans with electric vehicles.

Operators will have to compromise in areas such as range, charging times and payload capacity.

“Hydrogen appears to provide a solution to this situation because of the promise of ease of refuelling. However, there are only around than a dozen hydrogen filling stations in the whole country and literally no programme for widespread expansion.”

“There are higher level problems, too. Generating green hydrogen on a large scale would be required and the infrastructure for that is also sorely lacking.

“In other European countries, there is investment happening and government support in place that could help to overcome some of these issues – but not in the UK at this point in time.”

Hollick stressed that LCV fleets have to resolve the infrastructure and operational issues to maximise electric van effectiveness as the ICEs are phased out over the next few years.