Great Wall Motor: Another route to eco-mobility

GREAT Wall Motor (GWM) is certainly going places with its range of electric vehicles (EVs) and internal combustion engine (ICE) models, and soon with hydrogen fuel cell projects as well.

Although for the moment, its focus is on the commercial vehicle sector, it does not rule out introducing passenger vehicles using hydrogen if the market demands them.

After all, hydrogen vehicles subscribe to a clean environment too since the only product a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle discharges is water.

And GWM’s venture into hydrogen in the automotive field was not a recent thing; it says it has been conducting research and development (R&D) in this area for more than 20 years.


It adds that it was the first Chinese automotive enterprise to join the International Hydrogen Council and the first Chinese company to unveil and delineate a comprehensive global hydrogen strategy in the automotive industry.

Its hydrogen involvement is conducted through FTXT Energy Technology Co, Ltd (GWM-FTXT) with the commitment to be a leading global comprehensive service provider in the hydrogen energy industry.

It is not only in Baoding that FTXT-GWM focuses its hydrogen R&D but also in four other centres – Shanghai, Yokohama in Japan, Munich in Germany and Vancouver in Canada.

This “international R&D team of thousands” has established an integrated industrial chain development model of manufacturing, storage, transportation, refuelling and applications to meet customer needs across the entire industry spectrum.


Currently, its efforts are focused on fuel cell and hydrogen storage technologies and GWM- TXT says it has successfully established three major technological platforms – Hydrogen Engine (HE), Hydrogen Stack (HS) and Hydrogen Power (HP).

Along with its extensive R&D network, the company says it has the large-scale production capacity of a complete set of hydrogen power systems and core components.

The core products include the fuel cell system, 35MPa/70MPa (Megapascal) vehicle hydrogen storage systems and liquid hydrogen products, while key components cover fuel cell stacks, membrane electrodes, Type IV hydrogen storage tanks and on-tank valves.

Given this scenario, we were not surprised when GWM-FTXT says its key technologies and performance indicators of multiple products have reached the “international leading level” and that it has obtained relevant international authoritative certifications.


Its latest products in this field include a 255kW (346hp) high-power fuel cell system, a 300kW+ graphite plate stack, a second-generation high-performance membrane electrode assembly (MEA), a large capacity liquid hydrogen storage system, among others.

The company adds that the advancements made in safety standards, product performance and durability have reached a level of global excellence.

This is said to help hydrogen powered heavy-duty trucks advance from short and medium transportation runs to a long transportation role.

Although the focus is currently on commercial vehicles, including buses and light trucks, the technology is all there if GWM-FTXT wants to extend its hydrogen expertise to cover cars.

The fuel cell car is not new as we drove the Honda Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in 2011 at the Motegi 2.4km oval course in Japan.


Back to the current times, we had an interesting insight into GWM-FTXT’s advanced stage of hydrogen vehicle development during our visit to one of its many R&D centres in Baoding, China where GWM has its headquarters as well.

The R&D centre welcomes visitors with a permanent message display that says “Rock the World with our GIFT – Green Intelligent Future Technology”.

Apart from a quick run-through of the R&D facilities, we checked out the 100kW (136hp) fuel cell engine, 130kW fuel stack (which could be customised according to the client’s needs) and the 70MPa hydrogen storage tank.

The fuel cell engine is said to have a system lifetime of 5,000 hours, which is more of a minimum span as GWM-FTXT prefers to look at the lower end rather than blares its trumpet on a maximum range.


Of course, what would all that product reviews be without experiencing what the GWM-FTXT hydrogen efforts could offer.

This came in having a ride in the FCEV bus and a prime mover, the latter without the cargo trailer.

We had almost a full load for the bus ride and it moved effortlessly with the expectedly strong electric power generated by the fuel cell engine.

These hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have a 500km driving range based on the hydrogen storage tanks that each vehicle is equipped with.

Apparently, these vehicles are already on the road in Baoding on a trial basis to convince customers on clean transportation using hydrogen.


The public testing service platform (High Hydrogen Testing) was established in 2016 and the centre, covering more than 20,000sq m, was opened in mid-2018.

We could see how the hydrogen storage tanks are stacked behind the prime mover cabin (four of them) while those for the bus was beneath the floor board.

Similarly, those for the light trucks are also located below the cargo bay, much like how batteries are situated in EV cars.

If the hydrogen storage tanks could be made smaller for cars (our Honda Clarity FCEV experience revealed a car that was dimensionally larger than an Accord due to the hydrogen storage tanks), we could be driving on hydrogen in time to come.