10 Apr 2024

French Hydrogen Taxi-Rental Firm Hysetco Raises €200 Million to Expand Refueling Network

10 Apr 2024  by bnnbloomberg   
HysetCo SAS, a startup that rents hydrogen-powered electric vehicles to hundreds of taxi drivers around Paris, raised nearly €200 million ($218 million) to expand its operations beyond the French capital.

The funding came from three investors led by Hy24, which specializes in hydrogen infrastructure. Raise Impact and Eiffel Investment Group also participated, the companies said in a joint statement.

The bet on clean-hydrogen mobility, still a tiny market, comes amid signs of weak sales of battery-powered electric vehicles in some markets after governments rolled back subsidies. While hydrogen fuel-cell cars are more expensive than battery EVs — and charging stations scarce — proponents argue that they offer longer driving ranges and are quicker to refuel.

HysetCo, which rents more than 500 hydrogen vehicles and operates four hydrogen refueling stations around Paris, plans to build another 10 in the area by the end of 2025, company President Loic Voisin said in an interview.

“The aim is to densify our network in the greater Paris region, structure the company, and to go into other geographies in France and in Europe,” he said. “We’re addressing the needs of clients that want to decarbonize their mobility and make intensive use of their vehicles, such as taxi drivers and professional users of vans.”

With the funding announced Wednesday, Hy24’s clean hydrogen infrastructure fund becomes the majority owner of the French startup. HysetCo already has TotalEnergies SE, Toyota Motor Corp., Air Liquide SA and Kouros SA as shareholders.

Fuel cells work by converting compressed hydrogen gas in a car’s tank into electricity that powers the vehicle’s engine. But there’s still debate over whether the technology is more viable than battery EVs, largely because of the lack of a refueling network for hydrogen.

“The decarbonization of transport won’t happen solely with battery electric vehicles,” Hy24 Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Etienne Franc told Bloomberg. Constraints over raw materials needed to build battery cell packs, along with the shortfall in performance of EVs, may boost the need for hydrogen-powered mobility, he said.

Read More: Germany’s Dream of 15 Million Electric Vehicles Is Fading Away

HysetCo may expand in neighboring countries and in cities such as Milan and Brussels, according to Franc. The fundraising will also help reimburse borrowings linked to HysetCo’s previous acquisition of Slota, a Parisian taxi company, he said. HysetCo and its investors are hoping to include more ride-sharing and delivery firms as clients as the company grows.


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