Hopium to build hydrogen cars in France

Startup France Hopium plans to develop and produce its hydrogen sedan Machina in Normandy.

The Vernon facility will open in 2024. The new Hopium site might employ 1,500 people.

The 85-hectare site in Vernon, an hour north of Paris, will include 20,000-vehicle-per-year assembly lines and an R&D center. The Machina is a motorsport-inspired hydrogen-powered automobile.

The startup unveiled its first driveable prototype in June 2021. At the time, it was already planned to mass-produce the Machina. Hopium’s website lists 500 hp (370 kW) and 230 km/h as first critical data for its platform. With one tank of petrol, the vehicle can travel more than 1,000 kilometers, according to the manufacturer.

Hopium’s outside design is inspired by water. The front has an enormous radiator grille to cool the fuel cell system. FĂ©lix Godard, a Porsche, Tesla, and Lucid interior designer, has joined the start-up. When unfolded, the cockpit’s eye-catcher will feature a display that spans the full vehicle’s width.

Machina was first conceived as Alpha 0 in a Parisian workshop. Ten patent applications have been submitted for the FC system’s inside and external design, according to a July corporate release. More will come by year’s end.

The facility and R&D center will be erected in Normandie Parc, between the A13 and Vernons station. The Campus de l’Espace is home to aerospace firms and facilities that work with hydrogen.

Olivier Lombard, who founded Hopium in 2019, won LMP2 in the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans. Lombard has raced hydrogen-powered cars for seven years. The statement calls it an open-air lab. The Machina has been pre-ordered 1,000 times. Currently, just a waiting list is available. The initial buying price is 120,000 euros.