China is the world's largest market for cars—especially electric cars.
The country has even announced that at some point in the future it will ban internal combustion cars. But it's not all about battery electric EVs, it turns out.
A new company called Grove Hydrogen Automotive Co. announced that it will focus on fuel-cell cars, starting with a four-door SUV that it plans to launch in China later this year. The company says it will reach mass production sometime next year. Grove is home to several former automotive executives from Volkswagen, Audi, Infiniti, and other established automakers.
Grove says the car will have up to 625 miles of range from its hydrogen tanks, which can be refueled in a "few minutes." The company says the car will be built with composite materials and use regenerative braking to maximize efficiency, which implies that it also includes some battery capacity that could be used to provide extra bursts of power beyond the fuel-cell's output.
The car is scheduled to debut at next month's Shanghai auto show.
Grove Hydrogen Automotive fuel-cell car
Grove has plans to sell a line of hydrogen cars, not just a single model, and will set up "experience centers" similar to Tesla stores, in China. It plans to explore export markets in 2020, but did not specify where.
The car company was founded by the Institute for Geosciences and the Environment, which develops hydrogen from industrial wastes, giving it a more sustainable, less carbon-intensive footprint that most hydrogen produced in the U.S.
IGE plans to roll out hydrogen fueling infrastructure in "Tier 1" cities in China starting in 2020, Tier 2 cities in 2021, and then "aggressively" throughout all "significant" cities in China thereafter. They gave no indication what's considered a significant city.
The company is working with officials in China to pave the way for the rollout.
Grove did not specify any plans to come to the U.S., where hydrogen infrastructure is still sparse. If it did, it might find a more fertile market as a supplier of renewable hydrogen production and refueling equipment than as another automaker trying to sell fuel-cell cars in the States alongside Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and GM.