Countless car brands are swarming to battery electric vehicles (BEVs), but Rolls-Royce could become the first car company to switch from BEVs to hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
Rolls-Royce is set to globally launch its first BEV, the Spectre, in the fourth quarter of 2023 ahead of becoming an electric-only brand by 2030.
Company CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told British publication Autocar the positioning of the brand opens up the possibility of considering hydrogen in the future.
Brands including BMW, Toyota, and Hyundai, among others, have been more committed to FCEV technology, something that the likes of Tesla and Volkswagen have criticised.
Mr Müller-Ötvös did rule out hydrogen-combustion technology, like what Toyota is currently working on in addition to its FCEVs. BMW also experimented with hydrogen-combustion 7 Series sedans in the early 2000s.
“I think a hydrogen-combustion engine is nothing I would in any way look into, because that was tested already years ago,” said Mr Müller-Ötvös to Autocar.
“This is not the most efficient way to use hydrogen. If hydrogen will be used in the future, then it’s fuel cells. And fuel cells are nothing different from a battery. It is just how you get the energy.
“And why not? I would say so when the time is right for us, and when the technology is so much advanced, that it is definitely something we would pursue as Rolls-Royce.
“Why not? We might exit batteries, and we might enter into fuel cells.”
There are benefits of FCEVs, like considerably quicker charging/filing times than BEVs, and zero emissions, with only water vapour coming out of the exhaust.
This isn’t the first time Mr Müller-Ötvös has made these kind of remarks, as back in October last year he told Bloomberg that FCEVs may be in the long-term future for the brand.
Mr Müller-Ötvös, however, admits there is one obstacle when it comes to FCEVs.
“You can’t obviously have hydrogen charging at home, whereas [with battery EVs] you have one big advantage, and all our clients have big garages,” said Mr Müller-Ötvös to Autocar.
“There is lots of space at home and there is lots of space in office buildings to install charging.
“Quite a lot of our clients already have charging installed at home because, for many, Spectre is not their very first electric car.”
For now Rolls-Royce is “watching closely” for developments in hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to evaluate the feasibility of FCEVs.