Cars with hydrogen cells are an alternative to electric or hybrid vehicles. The foreseeable growth of this sector may represent a business opportunity for garages, but how can a garage be adapted to repair cars with hydrogen cells?
Why adapt the workshop to repair vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells?
Traditional fuels, such as gasoline or diesel, are losing weight compared to other systems. One of them is the hydrogen fuel cell, which is already mounted on vehicles such as the Hyundai Nexo or the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. This system is based on the use of fuel cells or cells that contain hydrogen and oxygen and can obtain energy from other sources, such as sunlight or electricity.
The arrival of these vehicles on the market is a challenge for repair shops, as they have to adapt to new technological and safety requirements. Obviously, if the workshop makes this effort, it will be able to serve more customers. However, it must also be borne in mind that adapting the workshop to repair cars with fuel cells can include the reform of facilities and the purchase of tools and equipment that can be expensive. For this reason, it is advisable to calculate whether the investment will be profitable before making it.
Some things to keep in mind when adapting the workshop
Hydrogen, a flammable material
Firstly, it is important to know that workshops must take certain safety measures when working with hydrogen-powered vehicles. It should not be forgotten that this is a light gas that dissipates easily, but is also highly flammable.
Therefore, one of the main safety measures to be taken in the workshop is to have an adequate ventilation system at the top of the workshop. Hydrogen is a lighter gas than oxygen and tends to go to the top of installations, so make sure there are no ignition sources near the ceiling.
It is also important to have equipment to detect gas leaks, in this case, a hydrogen leak detector. These devices use sensors to check for the presence of hydrogen in the air. There are portable, with tracer gas or by aspiration.
Equipment needed to repair electric vehicles
Today, cars powered by hydrogen cells use electrical energy, so they have high voltage equipment. Therefore, you must have the right tools to work safely and without the risk of electrocution.
For example, it is essential to have special gloves with an electrical resistance of up to 1,000 volts. Normally it is usual to work with lower voltages, but gloves with this resistance are necessary for some systems, such as the removal of batteries.
In addition, before beginning to manipulate the entrails of these vehicles, as with electrical vehicles, it is necessary to remove all connections to avoid the danger of electrocution. All this must be combined with other safety measures, such as using tools with insulating materials, safety suits and never wearing jewellery or metallic elements during handling.
It should be noted that most of these repairs are still carried out in the dealerships themselves, as it is the manufacturers themselves who have the specific parts and tools to carry them out. In addition, most workshops should face significant costs to incorporate ventilation and safety measures in their facilities.
Together, these two factors make many garages doubt whether it is profitable to adapt to repair cars with fuel cells or not. For the time being, the market volume for this type of car is still very small, perhaps too small for the investment to be economically profitable. And only time will tell whether this technology settles, and makes the investment worthwhile, or whether it ends in oblivion.