While Tesla bets everything for everything to electricity for its fleet of vehicles, in Europe the first Tesla model powered by hydrogen and conventional batteries has seen the light. And no, it was not designed by the company led by Elon Musk. It has been done by a Dutch gas company, the Holthausen Group, which has tuned a Model S and has managed to extend its range up to 1,000 kilometers.
Although it has been baptized as Hesla, the company behind this model points out on its Twitter account : “It is the name of the project, but we are not going to use the Hesla brand for the converted car. It’s just a hydrogen Tesla built by Holthausen . “
Simply, but both at the same time. Because by keeping the Model S unchanged in all that refers to its electrical equipment, the adherence by the Dutch group of light hydrogen tanks and the infrastructure necessary for them to work has multiplied by two the kilometers that this vehicle can travel without need recharge.
The work has not been easy, among other aspects due to the complex software that Tesla uses. This made getting the vehicle to draw power from an external source a challenge. “It ‘s a big maze” , confirms Max Holthausen, one of the engineers of the group. But, once overcome, the results are obvious, although they are accompanied by obstacles. The fundamental one, the significant increase in costs involved in adding hydrogen tanks.
“How much the price rises depends on the hydrogen cells that are incorporated,” says Holthausen before admitting that, in the case of a standard version Model S, the purchase price would double, to stand at around 78,000 euros.
This experiment, conducted without collaboration or mediation by Tesla, renews long-ago expectations of hydrogen for transportation. And it is that, in the same line as the priorities established by Tesla, in the field of cars electricity seems already to be in a leadership position.
However, Helsa’s achievements show how hydrogen as an additional source could end challenges over the range (or lack thereof) of electric cars. Beyond the tuned version of the Model S, this is suspected by some heavyweights of the industry such as General Motors, which plans to deepen the development of vehicles with battery and hydrogen cells between now and 2023.
Although the trend takes off, there will still be obstacles ahead for the Hesla-type models to spread. The lack of adequate infrastructure is undoubtedly one of the main ones since, today, this factor makes hydrogen recharging little less than impossible for private users.