Originally launched as a prototype back in June, the hydrogen-fueled Mob-ion TGT promised more than 150 miles of zero tailpipe emission riding from hydrogen canisters about the size of a reusable water bottle. In a world where the major players in the car industry have almost universally committed to battery-electric power, the move seemed like a step backwards, and didn’t get much media play. Recently, though, the government of France seems to have begun pushing hydrogen power — and the Mob-ion TGT scooter concept might just be a big deal after all.
France — and, indeed, a number of other EU countries — seems to “get” that the future of the automobile is electric, but they see hydrogen as a valid option for the millions of two-wheelers currently occupying European roads. Unlike America, where a Vespa or Niu might be seen as a lifestyle vehicle, European and Asian scooter riders use their bikes as everyday transport. They depend on them, in other words, to get to work, go to school, and to run errands, and many scooterists in densely populated European cities (like Paris), don’t have access to home garages for overnight charging.
That’s where the French government seems to think hydrogen can play a significant role, and the Mob-ion, in particular, shows just how simple it could be to “swap” an empty can of hydrogen for a new one. “There is no need to refuel at a charging station,” reads the French government page (through Google’s translator). “Just go to one of the dedicated vending machines. Kind of like going to buy some drink cans.”
And, if you think this all sounds familiar, you’re right! Over in Asian markets, Gogoro is already using vending machines to swap spent batteries for charged ones in vehicles just like this one. Why the EU is looking at a hydrogen option when companies like Honda, Yamaha, KTM, and Piaggio/Vespa have already committed to similar battery swap technology is a bit of a mystery, but you’re all smart guys and gals, and I’m sure you’ll have some good ideas as to what’s really behind this push to hydrogen in the comments.
In the meantime, France has plans to invest more than €7 billion by 2030 to develop more hydrogen solutions like this one, of which € 2 billion will be spent between now and the end of 2022. No word on how much of that will be going to French oil company, Total, but I’m guessing it’s not zero.