Twice the Range, Only Double the Cost


Early conversations about getting away from fossil fuels brought hydrogen into the mix. After all, it burns cleanly, has a history as a fuel source, and there is a production infrastructure already in place.

The challenges with hydrogen are the complexity of that production process, the costs associated with it, the extremely flammable nature of the gas, and the fact that an entirely new distribution process would need to be established.

Regardless, the technology has been adopted by a number of fleets, and recently the Holthausen Hydrogen Center, which specializes in the development of hydrogen fuel cells, announced a new offering focused on Tesla.

Dubbed the Hesla, the company took a Model S and retrofitted it with a hydrogen fuel system that complements the electric battery. With all the power-boosting add-ons available, the Model S maxes out with a 315-mile range on a full charge. The hydrogen fuel cell option gives it another 305 miles before the driver would need to plug in or fill up.

Tesla wasn’t involved in developing the hydrogen kit, so the firm’s most significant obstacles were navigating the complicated and proprietary software and electrical systems.

The use of hydrogen could also be getting a boost by the major automotive OEMs. Toyota, Honda, GM, and Hyundai are all planning to release vehicles that utilize the fuel source within the next five years.

This move could help push the development of fuel stations. Because according to the U.S. Department of Energy, only 39 such stations currently exist in the U.S., and all but four of them reside in California.

While you wait for hydrogen, this retrofit for the Tesla won’t come cheap. Consider that the model S for which Holthausen developed the kit is not the base model, but the P100D that retails for $135,000. The retrofit itself will run another $70,000.

So that devotion to keeping it clean will cost you about as much as a Bentley, Aston Martin, or Ferrari.

Holthausen expects the kit to be available by early next year.

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