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Demonstration of FC Coaches for regional passenger transport

The scope of this topic is to demonstrate first-prototype FC coaches in EU. By utilizing the extensive knowledge of the FC city bus demonstration projects, the FC coach concept should be designed in consideration of the coach specific operational requirements, with special focus on weight and space optimized design of the coach specific hybrid power system (fuel cells, batteries) and the H2 storage tanks.

This topic will address two very different coach segments: long distance coaches and intercity transport coaches, characterized however by similar performance requirements, such as long route distances, high average speeds and high payload and seating capacity requirements. The FC coaches should be of vehicle classes [30]: M3 Class II – destined for regional passenger transport and/or intercity scheduled passenger transport and/or M3 Class III – destined for long distance travel with seated passengers used for tourist coaches enabling long distance travel in EU.

The project should aim at demonstrating at least 6 FC Coaches in the two coach segments (inter-city and long-distance passenger transport) which should fulfil the following requirements:

  • The FC coach should integrate a fuel cell system of min. 100 kW (net power) or 100% of the energy consumption should come from hydrogen. Other intermediate solutions could be tested during the project but the consortium should demonstrate how they will reach this objective in the long term;
  • The fuel cell modules should prove durability of at least 25,000h. At the end of the demonstration phase a monthly availability > 85% of the operation time (excluding preventive maintenance time) should be demonstrated;
  • The FC coach should demonstrate driving speed up to 100 km/h;
  • Vehicle range should follow intercity/long-distance end user’s needs (minimum 400 km between refuelling) and standard comfort requirements equal to diesel buses;
  • For standardization reasons, the hydrogen tanks should be based on existing standard H2 storage solutions ;
  • Vehicle weight and size should not grow beyond the current state of the art or beyond current certification limits;
  • Hydrogen fuel consumption should be less than 10kg/100km according to the Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool (VECTO) [31] mission profile driving cycle;
  • The FC coaches should be operated for minimum two years, and minimum of 80,000 km per coach per year with a minimum daily travel distance of 100 km for the M3 Class III type bus;
  • Fully developing the necessary supply chain with focus on a healthy and diversified EU value chains (e.g. drivetrain, FC stacks and systems, tanks among others) and second sources for related services, including availability of trained personnel, spare parts etc. in order to bring this technology on a parity with conventional technologies;

The activities of the project should at least include:

  • Optimization of driveline for fuel efficiency and operating range; optimize hybrid FC + battery design, given absence of (frequent) stop-and-go, i.e. limitations of brake energy recuperation;
  • Optimization of fuel economy, given the different duty cycle (maximum speed, average speed, relative (in)sensitivity to topography, climate and load variations); optimize performance, output of fuel cell and traction battery for best fuel efficiency and cost;
  • Optimize space utilization in relation to the location of H2 tanks, given the required operating range(s), considering both passenger and luggage bays minimum volume(s) requirements;
  • H2 refuelling plan and operating range requirements, i.e. refuelling options and time, based on the use case and range requirements;
  • Safety assessments, given the location of the drive components and the storage tanks, with the objective to meet or exceed existing safety standards;
  • Establishment of new hydrogen refuelling stations, HRS is not considered in scope of the topic; upgrade of existing stations is however considered to be as part of the scope.

TRL at start of the project: 6 and TRL at the end of the project: 8.

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox , which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD and the Hydrogen Event and Lessons LEarNed database, HELLEN. A draft safety plan at project level should be provided in the proposal and further updated during project implementation (deliverable to be reviewed by the European Hydrogen Safety Panel (EHSP)).

Activities developing test protocols and procedures for the performance and durability assessment of fuel cell components should foresee a collaboration mechanism with JRC (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC""), in order to support EU-wide harmonisation. Test activities should adopt the already published FCH 2 JU harmonized testing protocols to benchmark performance and quantify progress at programme level.

“CertifHy Green H2“ guarantees of origin should be used through the CertifHy platform [32] to ensure that the hydrogen produced and dispensed at the HRS is of renewable nature.

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 5 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contribution above this amount will not be evaluated.

Expected duration: 5 years




For intercity and long-distance transport of passengers, coaches are used normally. About 20% of all registered buses for public transport are coaches, fuelled primarily by diesel (Euro II to Euro VI [29]). Electrification for these vehicles is not equally advanced in comparison to urban city buses, due to challenges in meeting driving range requirements. In comparison to FC city buses, which have been demonstrated for more than a decade, FC coaches are expected to drive longer distances, typically 400-800 km/day and faster, typically 80-100 km/h on highways. There are very few stops on the route, which results in limited recuperation of breaking energy. Coaches often have a higher energy consumption, due to higher weight and auxiliary systems such as air conditioning. The FC Coach also encounters space constraints for the drive line and hydrogen storage components, since the coaches often carry luggage as well. Learnings and experiences from the FC city buses can be utilized, but the completely different driving pattern, power demand and space constraints require an entirely new FC system design to be validated.


The project should contribute to introduce a new technology into the existing business model on FC coaches and the expected impacts could include:

  • Extend electrification of public transport for two major coach transport segments;
  • Help reach critical mass by making existing H2 refuelling network more viable;
  • Allow FC coaches to enter city boundaries and inner city low/zero emission zones;
  • Ensure EU competitiveness and EU industrial leadership on developing zero-emission transportation solutions and support the European value chain for fuel cell systems;
  • Improvement of fuel cell and fuel cell system efficiency and power train components, like DC/DC Conversion, Power Inverters and E-Drives;
  • Advances in fuel cell hybridization strategies to improve on-board energy management and power performance;
  • Advances in drive profile and route recognition to optimize energy management strategies on-board the vehicle;
  • Advance in service and maintenance strategies and workshop facilities;
  • Advances in predictive maintenance strategies;
  • Support economy of scale and cross platform synergies for components and sub-systems between different heavy-duty transport vehicles;
  • Standardized interfaces between fuel cell system, tank system and vehicle (e.g. communication, fluids, voltage levels) and vehicle communication system.

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 of the FCH2 JU 2020 Annual Work Plan and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.