Billionaire Issa brothers back hydrogen-powered lorry start-up

The billionaire brothers who personal Asda have invested right into a fledgling zero-emission lorry firm and plan to create Britain’s first community of hydrogen gas stations to help the decarbonisation of Britain’s 300,000 heavy items automobiles.

HVS, based in Glasgow as Hydrogen Car Programs in 2017, is testing and creating a lorry operating on hydrogen gas cells on the automotive trade’s Mira proving floor at Nuneaton, Warwickshire, after successful £21 million of taxpayer-funded grants.

The corporate additionally has attracted £30 million of funding from Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the Anglo-Asian businessmen who made their fortune with the Euro Garages petrol station enterprise that they’ve merged with Asda, the supermarkets chain they purchased in the course of the pandemic.

HVS plans to begin manufacturing by 2026 as a primary mover in a sector that’s proving gradual to chop its carbon emissions. The corporate is looking for potential manufacturing unit websites within the Midlands and with the devolved governments of Northern Eire and Scotland, the place respectively Wrightbus and Alexander Dennis produce hydrogen buses, and in Wales.

Pete Clarke, co-founder of HVS and its head of design, mentioned the corporate had been arrange in response to the statistic that throughout Europe lorries account for 1.5 per cent of the automobiles on the highway however greater than 20 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. But the sector — led by the likes of Daimler, Volvo and the Volkswagen-owned Scania and Man — has been gradual to embrace the transition to web zero, not least due to the difficulties of fuelling a automobile that should carry heavy payloads over lengthy distances.

HVS believes the trade is coming spherical to the concept that battery-electric lorries are usually not the answer due to the burden of the batteries wanted, the shortage of vary, the size of time that they take to recharge and the stress on the nationwide energy grid of ever extra electrical automobile chargers.

Somewhat than retrofitting a standard lorry, HVS has designed its new hydrogen automobile across the optimum distribution in a lorry of gas cells, high-pressure tanks and the cooling expertise wanted. The corporate says its automobile could have a variety of about 350 miles and could be refuelled in roughly the identical time that it takes to fill a diesel lorry’s tank.

Key to the adoption and commercialisation of hydrogen heavy lorries is gas worth — it wants mass hydrogen manufacturing and authorities incentives to greater than halve the current price to a viable £5 per kg — and a refuelling community. It’s understood that the Issa brothers’ EG Group believes {that a} hydrogen long-range lorry fleet could be serviced by solely seven strategically sited hydrogen filling stations on the motorway community: at Dover, on the northern stretches of the M25, within the Midlands and close to Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.

Beneath authorities mandates, all new HGVs should be zero emission by 2040. “The time is now to prepare for that transition,” Clarke mentioned. “We’re at the moment decreasing the variety of diesel lorries on the roads at a fee of 1 per cent per 12 months. The trade wants to vary and it must hurry up. Our purpose is to be a disruptor in a really conservative sector the place truck design hasn’t modified in many years, and to come back to market as quickly as attainable.”

Jawad Khursheed, 34, a Glasgow-based entrepreneur, rescued HVS from insolvency in 2020, restructured its debt and introduced within the Issas. He mentioned the corporate was in talks to provide lorries to Asda and different grocery store teams, in addition to supply corporations akin to Amazon, DHL, UPS and Fedex.

With few indigenous British automotive start-ups rising in the course of the emissions transition within the trade, Khursheed mentioned he didn’t need HVS to repeat the errors of Arrival. That firm, listed on Nasdaq, constructed manufacturing amenities in Oxfordshire and its workforce ballooned to 2,800 earlier than it give up Britain final 12 months with out assembling the hundreds of vans, buses and taxis a 12 months that it had promised.

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