Hydrogen taxis | Hype x Air Liquide x Idex x Toyota Motor
Three French companies – hydrogen taxi company Hype, industrial gas supplier Air Liquide, and energy supplier Idex – joined forces with Japanese car manufacturer Toyota Motor in 2019 to form HysetCo, a joint-venture determined to bring a change to the mobility landscape. Together, they deploy in Paris the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen taxis.
Hype, an innovative mobility venture in Paris
Hype is the world’s first hydrogen taxi company, launched in Paris in December 2015 during COP21. The company started back in 2009 with the creation of STEP, a venture aiming at developing a fleet of battery-powered taxis in Paris. STEP eventually realized that long-charging batteries were not the best options for a taxi service with fast rotation of vehicles. In 2015, STEP decided to shift to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, with greater range and shorter charging times, and launched a new dedicated company: Hype. Shortly after its launch, Hype tied partnerships with industrial gas leader Air Liquide and French public financial institution CDC.
Air Liquide, a pioneer of the hydrogen industry
Air Liquide was created in 1902 in France. It is today the second largest supplier of industrial gases in the world, serving a variety of sectors from heavy industry to healthcare. Air Liquide now invests in hydrogen as a key solution for energy transition. It is a founding member of the global Hydrogen Council, a CEO-led initiative of leading companies created in 2017. Early 2021, Air Liquide announced the opening of the world’s largest low-carbon hydrogen production plant in Canada, and a structuring partnership with Siemens for clean hydrogen production.
Air Liquide has been active in Japan for more than one century - it is the longest operating French company in the country. It was the only foreign company to join the consortium established in 2018 to deploy hydrogen stations in Japan. Air Liquide is a member of the EU-Japan Business Round Table.
Idex, a renewable energy service provider
Founded in 1967 as the “Industrielle de Chauffage”, Idex is a medium-size energy service company, specializing in biomass, geothermal and other renewable energies. Since 2019, Idex is making its first steps as an international corporation through the acquisition of Go4Green (Belgium) and DanPower Baltic (Lithuania).
Toyota Motor Corporation, the world’s largest car maker
The Toyota Mirai
Founded in Japan in 1937, Toyota Motor Corporation is the largest automotive manufacturer worldwide. Toyota is a leader in low-carbon mobility, with 6 million units of its hybrid car Prius sold since its release in 1997. Besides this success with hybrid technology, the company also develops fully electric battery-powered vehicles and, more recently, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
The Toyota Mirai, released in 2016, was the world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. As of 2019, 10,250 Mirais were in circulation. The top-selling markets were the U.S. with 6,200 units, Japan with 3,500 and Europe with 640 cars. A new model is planned for release in Spring 2021. Toyota is also involved in national and global advocacy for hydrogen; like Air Liquide, it is a founding member of the Hydrogen Council.
Toyota Motor has been present in Europe since 1963. Wishing to shift away from the traditional “car manufacturing” company model to embrace different forms of mobility, Toyota has announced the creation of a subsidiary, Kinto, to be headquartered in Germany in 2021. Kinto will specialise in car leasing and subscriptions, aiming at 100 000 vehicles in circulation in 2023.
The partnership: Hype speeds up with the support of long-time partners
Before the formation of the HysetCo joint venture in 2019, some of the participating companies had already been involved in similar projects in France. Notably, Toyota France supplied prototype electric cars for a 3-year experimental car rental service in Grenoble. The company then went on delivering 25 Toyota Mirai to Hype in 2018, bringing its fleet to 100 vehicles.
In 2019, STEP (parent company of Hype), Air Liquide and Toyota, joined by Idex, formed HysetCo, a joint-venture focused on the distribution of hydrogen and the development of mobility-related applications, taking advantage of each partner’s expertise. The new joint-venture allowed Hype to scale up its service by widening its network of charging stations. In addition to three existing stations, the opening of a new station near Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport has benefitted from the support of EU initiative Horizon 2020. A crucial point for Toyota, as more charging stations means more potential customers for its Mirai. As of 2020, Hype had six charging stations in and around Paris and a fleet of 600 hydrogen-powered vehicles.
A Hype charging station
Despite a suspension of service in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns in France, in January 2021, HysetCo announced the building of two additional charging stations. With the support of major investors, it also purchased a taxi company, which 600 gasoline vehicles will be replaced by Toyota Mirai. For Toyota, this equals doubling the number of Mirai units in circulation in Europe. “This initiative will be the world’s largest hydrogen taxi fleet. We are happy to be part of it and reinforce Toyota’s investments in France, which is already home to our industrial, commercial and design activities”, said Frank Marotte, CEO of Toyota France.
Boasting the world’s biggest fleet of hydrogen taxis, the joint venture plans to expand internationally as soon as 2021. “We now have all the necessary elements to speed up our scale-up in the Paris region and other localities; with the same goal of fighting air pollution by facilitating the short-term use by drivers and customers of zero-emission mobility solutions”, commented Mathieu Gardies, CEO of Hype.
Preferred destinations are Spain, Germany, Portugal and other European capitals, but also North America. The joint venture also aims at contributing actively to the carbon neutrality of Paris Olympics in 2024 - of which Toyota is an official partner - by providing zero emission taxis and VTCs.
- Hype | Air Liquide | Idex | Toyota Motor Corporation
- Air Liquide press release (French) | Toyota Motor Corporation press release (French)
- More case studies of European-Japanese industrial partnerships for decarbonization
- SPIPA Japan: a one-year cycle of events supporting EU-Japan climate cooperation
Photo credits: Air Liquide, Jose Melin, Hype, Toyota