2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 05:39
Ricardo Juppe is responsible for testing the ten HydroGen4s at Opel. The system engineer has to do educational work.
By Thomas Flehmer
The young receptionist at the Kadea dealership in Berlin-Wilmersdorf looks somewhat incredulous when asked about Ricardo Juppe. "Is that the one with the cars?" Is the questioning answer. Now there will probably be several experts in a car dealership who have to do "with the cars". But the lady is not completely wrong. Because Ricardo Juppe is head of the HydroGen4 service hub in Berlin. The person responsible for the ten pre-production vehicles with fuel cells stationed in Berlin, which have been driving through the capital since 2008, should gain experience so that Opel is well equipped for the planned start of series production in 2015.
Four years earlier, however, fuel cell vehicles were still exotic harbingers of the automotive future and, due to the electric type - even if vehicles with fuel cells are also electric cars - they are more of a marginal phenomenon. The Juppe office is also far away from the sales rooms on the top floor of the car dealership - far away from current sales life.
No problem for the trained mechatronics technician and system engineer. Even with a market launch, these vehicles will not lose their exotic status. "The market launch of the series vehicles will take place on a higher platform because a new technology is very expensive. There is a bit of idealism in it," says Juppe.
No risk of explosion when refueling
In addition to gathering experience, the 29-year-old also has to do educational work again and again, because hydrogen vehicles and their drive systems are mostly unknown to the general public - see the young receptionist. Above all, the reservations are quite large, because hydrogen is a flammable gas if an oxidizing agent such as oxygen is present in sufficient proportions. And the fear of the explosion is there in the mind.
In everyday life, however - so Juppe - nothing can happen. When refueling there is "no risk of explosion, since the so-called form-fitting refueling process prevents the substance or gas from escaping." Refueling with gas or petrol is more dangerous because gases could escape there.
Security systems work
And even in the event of a possible accident, nothing can happen because all lines in which energy flows are switched off or quickly discharged. "In a serious accident, escaping hydrogen would not explode in a fire, but burn - comparable to the flame of a welding torch," says Juppe.
At the beginning of the project there was an accident with your test vehicle, the excitement was great, but "you could see that all the safety functions were working." Overall, it's a fear of ignorance about something new. "You also have supposed dangers with a normal car, you are just not so aware of it because it gets lost in everyday activities."
Quick acclimatization with fuel cell vehicles
In general, driving with fuel cell vehicles is different from cars powered by internal combustion engines, but not that different either. "The only hurdle as a difference is getting used to it, no gear changes, no engine noise. It's like driving a S-Bahn, because the noise increases when you accelerate. If a young person were to do his driving school on fuel cells, he would find combustion engines strange. It's a question of habit."
And the pedestrians will also adjust quickly. Juppe also speaks of a period of getting used to it until the pedestrians have switched to a different listening behavior. But Juppe will continue to be "the one with the cars" for at least that long.
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