the first retrofitted hydrogen coach will roll in Normandy

How to green public transport without draining the taxpayer? This is an equation that prevents many community bosses from sleeping, and moreover on the eve of the establishment of ZFEs (low-emission zones). It is true that at least 650,000 euros for the hydrogen bus and 550,000 euros for the electric bus, many think twice before giving up the infinitely more polluting thermal … but much cheaper.

The ministerial decree of March 13, 2020, authorizing the retrofit, paves the way for an alternative solution. Imposed with a hard fight by the government against very reluctant manufacturers, it allows light or heavy vehicles over five years old to be converted to electricity or hydrogen. As a result, savings of several tens of thousands of euros in the case of a coach and a reduction in GHG emissions by ” 87% versus the same diesel model », According to a recent study by Ademe.

Transdev opens the way

In Europe, several communities are already betting on electric battery-powered retrofitting. Transdev, associated for the occasion with the Normandy Region, will therefore be the first operator in the world – and certainly not the last – to attempt the hydrogen conversion of a diesel coach, in this case an Iveco Crossway. The model was chosen on purpose, specifies Thierry Mallet, CEO of Transdev. ” This is the most common in our fleet of thirty thousand vehicles ».

At the start of 2022, the retrofitted prototype will be assigned to the Rouen-Evreux Express line operated by the group on behalf of the Normandy Region. Here again, the route was not chosen at random. The terminus of the line, the prefecture of Eure is indeed home to the only one of the ten Norman hydrogen service stations – and one of the few in France – capable of meeting the needs of such a vehicle. ” This 700 bar station designed by Ataway will supply 30 kilos of blue hydrogen (from CO2 capture editor’s note) daily and we plan to double its capacity »Specifies Xavier Hubert, president of the electricity union of the Eure.

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Making hydrogen affordable

As for the retrofit of the vehicle, it will be entrusted to the good care of the Amiens company IBF H2, a startup created by Fernand de Sousa, boss of IBF Import Export. Known as the white wolf in the small world of public transport, man is famous for designing five-legged sheep.

“The advantage of hydrogen conversion is that it will make it possible to have cheaper vehicles, around 350,000 euros, more autonomous than their electric equivalents with batteries and, moreover, more capacity. This to which must be added the ease of recharging »He explains.

It remains to verify, in situ, the quality and performance of the machine which will be launched on the roads at the beginning of next year, under the close supervision of a group of industrial, institutional and scientific partners *, mobilized around the project.

For his part, the CEO of Transdev intends to make this experiment ” a national or even global benchmark ». « The retrofit, which makes hydrogen fueling affordable, has a real card to play in the decarbonisation of transport. It could be, tomorrow, an important part of our fleet »Analyzes Thierry Mallet. It remains to convince the authorities organizing transport, which Hubert Dejean de la Bathie, vice-president of the Region, in charge of the environment, does not doubt for a second. ” The timing is right. We will see all-out clauses for greening appear in future calls for tenders from EPCIs He predicts.

* SIEGE 27, INSA, CERTAM, CMQ Industries de la Mobilité, Le Dôme, Next Move, IDIT, IBF H2, Iveco, Atawey, IAV.