Modo Q&A with Mark Kirby of the Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA)

Modo: Modo members were the first carsharing members worldwide to get access to the NEXO as part of their fleet – why are carsharing and hydrogen fuel cell technology a natural fit?

Mark Kirby: The CHFCA is very proud that Modo members were the first carsharing members worldwide to get access to the NEXO as part of their fleet. We believe hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles will be part of many carshare fleets in the future because it comes down to productivity and peace of mind. Carshare members want electric vehicles. They are concerned about the environment and like that electric vehicle are zero emission and efficient, (not to mention, fun to drive). But while battery electric vehicles may be fine for individual owners, carshare vehicles need to be on the road – not tied up waiting for a battery charge station. Plus, we don’t want our downtowns and urban areas crammed with charging stations, substations and new electrical grid capacity to support battery electric vehicles. Fuel cell electric vehicles like NEXO have the range and fast-fill capability to ensure members can pick up a car and get where they want to go. And, most importantly, a fill takes minutes, not hours.

What news can members expect in 2020? Will there be more hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure in the lower mainland?

Absolutely! New hydrogen fueling stations are opening in 2020 with the leadership of the BC provincial government and the support of the federal government, together with major investment from energy companies, car companies and local entrepreneurs such as CHFCA member HTEC Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation. In addition to the two Shell stations at Granville & 70th and Lougheed, we have a new station opening at the Esso/7-11 service station at Westview in North Van in March.  As well, there is another hydrogen fueling station under construction in East Van and two more outside the lower mainland in Victoria and Kelowna. Plus, the province has plans for another 10.

The CHFCA’s ambition is to pave the way for a clean, low-carbon intensity hydrogen production facility here in the Lower Mainland. In addition to supplying the retail stations above, it will provide hydrogen to decarbonize our residential and commercial heating systems, our local industries as well as supplying fuel for clean hydrogen buses, commuter trains, trucks, ferries and even aviation. All are absolutely necessary to economically transition to carbon neutral by 2050.

Members who haven’t booked the NEXO yet – what can they expect? What surprised you about your first NEXO driving experience?

They are beautiful vehicles. I really congratulate Hyundai for the excellent job they have done designing a vehicle that integrates fuel cell technology so well into a luxurious car. What surprises is the smooth, silent rush of power when you step on the accelerator. Teslas are also beautiful cars, offering power and zero emissions. But as I merged in front of one, I thought to myself, “get used to making room for the other electric vehicle: the fuel cell electric vehicle.”