Over the last couple of years, many a car has been touted as a Tesla killer, and several alternatives to electric vehicles (EVs) have been proposed, including solar cars and hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
California-based tech company Hyperion has just unveiled its Hyperion XP1 and, while the company does want to highlight the benefits of hydrogen as a standard EV and ICE alternative, company CEO Angelo Kafantaris says he has no interest in taking on Tesla with the limited-run vehicle.
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But if the Hyperion XP1, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered hypercar with a 1,000-mile (1,609 km) range and a top speed of 221 mph (356 km/h), delivers on its promise, comparisons will be inevitable.
Aside from the Hyperion XP1's impressive range statistics, the hypercar goes 0 to 60 mph in only 2.2. seconds and recharges in 3 to 5 minutes. It's difficult not to look down the road at a certain other California-based car company. But that's not the plan here.
“There are enough car companies,” CEO Angelo Kafantaris told Car and Driver. “We’re an energy company that’s building this car to tell a story.”
Instead of using extremely heavy lithium-ion battery packs used for electric vehicles, the XP1 utilizes two large tanks of hydrogen that drive two powerful electric motors. In this case, less curb weight means more range and more power.
Then there's the environmental benefit of hydrogen itself. Currently, 95% of all hydrogen is sourced from steam reforming of natural gas, meaning it would solve the EV cobalt problem. What's more, since the byproduct of using hydrogen as a fuel is only water, it is incredibly environmentally friendly.
There is one important caveat: in 2020, refueling hydrogen cars is a very difficult task. As Futurism reports, as of 2018, there were only 39 publicly available hydrogen stations in all of the U.S.
Towards a network of hydrogen fueling stations
The hydrogen refueling problem is one Hyperion is on a mission to rectify: "you can make hydrogen from excess grid solar power," Kafantaris claimed. "Creating hydrogen is greener than making batteries."
The plan, Kafantaris says, is to build out its own hydrogen-fueling station network similar to Tesla's Supercharger network, which boasts 12,000 stations in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
"The key criterion is to deliver this clean powerful energy source in a cost-effective way so that the rest of the world could enjoy it," Kafantaris told Ars Technica.
"We decided we wanted to help this industry grow so that the rest of us enjoy the same benefits, which of course would be really long range, really fast refuel time, a longer life cycle that doesn't degrade with every charge (or refuel in this case) ... the nature of recyclability, which is not cost-prohibitive as compared to batteries, and lastly, durability since hydrogen vehicles are not susceptible to low performance in high heat or very cold temperatures."
"All these things make hydrogen a wonderful value proposition for the consumer when applied to vehicles," Kafantaris continued.
Will Hyperion succeed with this hypercar, which it hopes will double up as an educational tool on the benefits of hydrogen? Only time will tell? What we do know is that previous attempts by car manufacturers with the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo didn't quite have the desired effect.
While Hyperion is yet to name a price for the XP-1, you can bet it will be expensive. Only 300 of the hypercars will ever be made with production starting in 2022. Bring on the hydro revolution.