Just as fleets start to get to grips with hybrids, PHEVs and EVs, at Arval we’ve recently become involved with a technology that we feel has the capability to add another option to the mix.

We are partners in something called the Hydrogen Hub, which sees fuel cell technology used in a wide range of domestic, commercial and transport applications in Swindon, the location of our head office. The project aims to establish the town as a centre of excellence and we are chair of the Car Working Group, which will be central to a range of projects designed to look at the practicalities of operating hydrogen vehicles.

The first handful of vehicles are already in operation at local fleets including the National Trust and Nationwide and, last week, other businesses were invited to come along and look at the cars themselves and learn a little more about their operation.

The first thing to report is that the response to the vehicles was very positive. Hydrogen cars emit zero CO2, NOx, SOx and particulates and, as long as you have access to refuelling stations, are as easy to operate as a petrol or diesel model. They are good to drive and present few operational compromises.

Of course, there are currently some practical downsides. The cars themselves are only available in tiny numbers, are comparatively expensive, and the refuelling network is so small that it barely qualifies as a network at all.

However, it is clear that many of the fleets who attended the launch believed that these vehicles could well have a future in fleet, a point backed up by our 2017 CVO research. Quite when that future will materialise is difficult to say but perhaps hydrogen is today at the same stage as EVs were several years ago.

Certainly, we believe that hydrogen has potential and are taking the Hydrogen Hub trial very seriously. It’s a great learning opportunity to test some of the benefits and challenges attached to fuel cell technology. And of course, we’ll be reporting on our progress over the coming months to the readers of BusinessCar.