Darling is Australian firm H2X’s answer to the Ford Transit Custom
Australian firm H2X partnered with KTM to create lightweight ‘origami’ chassis for fuel cell vehicles
Track car and motorcycle manufacturer KTM has partnered with Australian outfit H2X Global to create a hydrogen fuel cell van that benefits from the Austrian firm’s lightweighting expertise.
The firm behind the X-Bow track car, and more recently the fixed-roof GT-XR supercar, partnered with H2X last year to co-develop a “revolutionary” lightweight platform aimed at reducing the cost of hydrogen fuel cell cars, trucks and buses, dubbed the ‘Smart chassis’.
As part of the agreement, the two firms announced that they would collaborate on a new ‘origami’ chassis for H2X’s light commercial vehicles, which is said to be “easier to produce and maintain and way more flexible for variants than a conventional chassis”.
K2X said this new platform would enhance the sustainability of its manufacturing processes while reducing the cost of investing in tooling, “which is typically a cost driver in typical sheet metal forming process”.
The first product to emerge from the partnership is a hydrogen-powered version of H2X’s Darling, a mid-sized van in the vein of the Ford Transit and Vauxhall Movano, available in various sizes ranging from 4670mm long to 5324mm.
Revealed in prototype form, the Hydrogen Professional Van – as it is called – is at an early stage of development, with H2X claiming to be in discussions with “a key supplier” to verify and validate its viability.
H2X claims it has a payload of 3500kg, can tow up to 2550kg and has a range of up to 248 miles.
Technical details on the hydrogen-powered Darling remain under wraps, as does the extent of KTM’s specific contribution to the project, but KTM Technologies’ technical project manager Andy Schumacher said it was “thrilled to have collaborated with H2X Global”.
“This partnership has allowed us to witness first-hand the innovative vision and dedication of H2X Global in pioneering hydrogen-powered solutions for the automotive industry,” he added.
“As a company committed to pushing the boundaries of automotive engineering, KTM recognizes the immense potential of hydrogen technology in creating environmentally friendly and groundbreaking vehicles.”
Hydrogen fuel cells are of particular interest to light commercial vehicle manufacturers, who tout the long range and short refuelling times offered by the technology as a boon for commercial operators. Stellantis offers a range of mid-sized fuel cell vans in Europe and various start-ups – including British-Canadian concern First Hydrogen – have voiced plans to commercialise their own takes on the formula.
This latest announcement comes just a day after Toyota revealed to Autocar that it was prioritising the development of fuel cell technology for commercial vehicles, having achieved limited success with its Mirai FCEV passenger car.