Foto: Pragma Industries
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The first e-bike with an electric motor powered by hydrogen has arrived on the market. The bike costs about 5000 euros. The motor reaches a speed of 25 kilometers per hour and recharging only needs to be done after it has been on the road for 150 kilometers. According to the manufacturer, Pragma Industries of France, this is a major improvement on existing pedelecs.

Greater range

The advantage of a hydrogen-powered bike motor is not just that it offers a greater range than current batteries which need to be recharged much sooner. But also that recharging can be done much faster, according to technical expert Kees Bakker from the Fietsersbond (Dutch Cyclist’s Union) . “It takes hours before the battery is full again on an electric bike .” Pragma states that it only takes two minutes to fill up the tank on a hydrogen bike.

However, the question is whether many consumers will appreciate this latest gadget on the market for e-bikes. First of all, the Pragma bike is twice as expensive as an ordinary pedelec, says Bakker. “Those cost about 2300 euros.”

In the second place, it is debatable as to which group of cyclists is looking for a range of 150 kilometers. You can go back and forth on one tank if you live 75 kilometers from work. “But I don’t expect anyone to cover that kind of distance by bike in order to get to work”, says Bakker. “That’s way too far.”

But: where can you tank hydrogen?

The most significant drawback at the moment is the lack of stations where you are able to tank hydrogen. The Netherlands, for example, now has three: in Helmond, Rhoon and Arnhem. And buying hydrogen in a jerry can at a hardware store is not an option either, says Bakker. “Hydrogen penetrates materials easily and is stored under high pressure. So it’s not easy to sell separately in shops.”

But of course all that may change, says Bakker. “In the car industry at the moment you see a battle between companies who are developing hydrogen-powered cars and cars that run on a battery that you can recharge at home. The problem with these batteries is that you can’t drive very far with them. You cannot go on holiday with them because along the way you have to recharge them each time at a charging point. Suppose that the hydrogen car wins and we will drive with it in the future: then you will also have more hydrogen refueling stations. But then you still have the disadvantage that you won’t be able to charge a hydrogen e-bike at home. Whereas this is possible with classic e-bikes.”