A patent filing points to the arrival of a new hydrogen vehicle that could blow the competition out of the water.
Volkswagen is working on a hydrogen-powered car that can travel 1,242 miles on a single tank.
Autocar reports the German automaker has reputedly applied for the patent registration of hydrogen fuel cells and a hydrogen vehicle that may be sold alongside existing electric cars like the ID.4 but also capable of traveling long distances without refueling.
The patent, jointly filed by the automaker and Kraftwerk Tubes, details a ceramic membrane. This is far cheaper than the polymer membrane favored by Toyota and Hyundai and is considered essential to the mass production of hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen vehicles. Notably, the ceramic membrane works without platinum; the pricey metal has been one of the obstacles standing in the way of fuel cell production.
This development contrasts sharply with Volkswagen's view on hydrogen. In May 2021 - two months before the patent was filed - former CEO Herbert Diess tweeted that hydrogen cars are not the solution to the world's climate problems. Roughly translated from German, the tweet reads, "Electrification has prevailed in transport. Bogus debates are a waste of time. Please listen to science!"
Kraftwerk Tubes founder Sascha Kuhn told Business Insider Germany that "the great advantage of our solution is that it can be produced much more cheaply than polymer fuel cells and does not require any platinum at all."
Kuhn extolled the virtues of the design, explaining that "our fuel cell generates waste heat, which at around 400 degrees is within a usable range. You don't have that with battery-electric drives. You can use it to operate both heating and air conditioning via a heat exchanger without using additional electricity."
Even though Kuhn's company jointly filed the patent with Volkswagen, Kraftwerk Tubes isn't working exclusively with the German automaker.
"Regardless of the manufacturer, our target is that our technology should be launched in a series vehicle in 2026. We're talking about 10,000 vehicles, spread over several car manufacturers," he explained. According to Kuhn, one of these companies is Nissan's premium subsidiary, Infiniti.
Whether it comes to fruition remains to be seen. Still, the arrival of a well-priced Volkswagen hydrogen vehicle with a range in excess of 1,200 miles would change the industry and position the brand as a leader in the alternative energy sector - something it hopes to achieve very soon.
While brands like BMW and Toyota continue to develop hydrogen cars, Volkswagen seems to be focused on electric vehicles for now and will soon introduce the ID. Buzz and ID. Aero to the American market. Hopefully, the German giant doesn't abandon its hydrogen ambitions, which sounds very promising.