Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen: Testing the hydrogen van with a plug-in!

Opel reinvents the plug-in hybrid – and how! Because instead of combustion engines, the Rüsselsheim-based company uses fuel cells in the Vivaro-e Hydrogen, supported by an externally chargeable battery. That hasn’t happened before. In this way, one counters the disadvantage of one concept with the advantage of the other, and is locally emission-free on the road. Short range, slow charging? The hydrogen drive can help here. No H2-Gas station nearby? The battery can take you there. We drove the hydrogen van! (Everything about hydrogen and fuel cells.)

Advantage tank speed

But first a few words about the technology. The Hydrogen is based on the electric Vivaro-e. A PEM fuel cell lives under the front hood, and instead of the battery pack there are now three high-pressure tanks in the vehicle floor, which together can hold 4.4 kg of hydrogen. According to WLTP, the quantity is sufficient for an electric range of around 350 kilometers. A 10.5 kWh battery pack is housed under the seat, which absorbs peak loads on the one hand and provides an additional range of 50 kilometers on the other.
Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen

The tanks in the underbody do not affect the loading volume. 5.5 cubic meters in the M and 6.1 in the L variant are a word.

Almost more important than the range – even a conventional Vivaro-e can cover up to 329 kilometers – are basically the shorter refueling stops compared to the pure Stromer. The hydrogen tanks are filled in three minutes, which saves valuable time in everyday business. The battery can be fully charged with a maximum of 11 kW in around 90 minutes and is fed by recuperation when braking. Another plus point: thanks to the clever packaging, the loading volume of up to 6.1 cubic meters is retained, as is the payload and towing capacity of one ton each.


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When driving, relaxation is the order of the day

How is it all going? Basically just like a normal Vivaro-e. On the one hand, this includes the trouble that the 100 kW (136 hp) and 260 Nm of torque have with the approximately two tons unladen weight of the shorter version we drove. The start from the stand is quite fast. 15 seconds for the standard sprint and a top speed of 110 km/h are not exactly exhilarating. And while we’re still complaining: The recuperation should work better and, above all, to a standstill, one-pedal driving is not possible.

Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen

The Hydrogen is well equipped from the factory. Smartphone connection, seat heating and 180-degree camera are standard.

On the other hand, the Vivaro e feeling also includes very good chassis and steering tuning as well as a generally pretty car-like driving experience. Really great! The unusual fuel cell plug-in hybrid betrayed neither any noise nor jerks nor other indecencies. You only realize that you are actually driving a hydrogen car at the gas station, when you quietly whirr away again after just a few minutes.

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The Vivaro-e Hydrogen is only available as a leasing vehicle

This is impressive because every single example is still being rebuilt by hand. Completely finished Vivaro-e come straight off the assembly line, are gutted again at Opel Special Vehicles in Rüsselsheim and fitted with the new drive technology. Up to 20 copies are made per week, including the sister models from Citroën and Peugeot. The Vivaro-e Hydrogen is currently still a kind of large test balloon to collect customer feedback.
Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen

The Vivaro-e Hydrogen is relaxed and unexcited to drive. But he could definitely be a little faster.

Fleet customers can lease it for EUR 700 per month. Opel has not yet communicated a purchase price. Will the drive concept catch on? We believe: it can work! At least in delivery traffic, where time savings and range are trumps and the vehicles have enough space for this type of drive. The Stellantis group apparently thinks so too. By 2025, they want to sell up to 10,000 units per year and also install the drive in larger vans and pick-ups.

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