Yes, there have been a few commercial hydrogen fuel cell production autos built (such a by Honda and Daimler) but they have been for lease and not for sale. Yesterday I talked about hydrogen fuel cell Sysco forklifts and palette trucks powered by Plug Power Gendrive systems possibly being the first commercial production hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for sale on the market.
This was confirmed yesterday by Plug Power’s Teal Vivacqua and Sysco VP Gary M. Mills. Okay, perhaps forklifts and palette trucks are not as sexy as hydrogen autos. And, perhaps the fact that they operate in a warehouse away from the public eye also makes a difference along with the fact that not everyone will own one.
But, this is still an important milestone in the advancement of hydrogen vehicles. You see many people think that the first hydrogen fuel cell auto of record was the 1966 General Motors Electrovan. And, they would be correct.
But, the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle actually predates this by 7 years. The first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle of record was a 1959 Allis-Chalmers farm tractor, developed by Harry Karl Ihrig.
This shows a couple of things. First, the challenge of putting hydrogen fuel cell autos on the road is a more monumental endeavor than putting other vehicles in action, because of the supporting infrastructure that needs to be built for autos.
Second, fleet vehicles such as forklifts and palette trucks prove the concept that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are practical not only from an environmental standpoint but from an economic standpoint as well.
And, just when you think that Plug Power’s first hydrogen fuel cell production vehicles for sale on the market in Texas is enough news, they are making even more news today. Plug Power will be expanding its sales of hydrogen fuel cell forklifts and palette trucks at the Walmart distribution center in Alberta, Canada.