Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 10, 2024 ·  3 min read

This tiny hydrogen-fueled car just broke a world record for going the distance

A Leap Forward for Hydrogen-Fueled Cars

In the realm of innovative and sustainable vehicles, plug-in electric cars have taken the spotlight in recent years. However, there’s another contender on the horizon that’s been gaining attention: fuel cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen. These vehicles, which generate electricity internally through hydrogen fuel cells, have faced their fair share of challenges, including concerns about efficiency and range anxiety.1 But a remarkable breakthrough has recently emerged from a team of ingenious students at the Netherland’s Delft University of Technology, placing hydrogen-fueled cars at the forefront of sustainable transportation.

Shattering Records with Hydrogen Efficiency

Fuel cell electric vehicles have had their limitations, but the student team at Delft University of Technology set out to revolutionize the game. Their creation, the Eco-Runner XIII, not only pushed the boundaries of hydrogen-fueled car technology but also clinched the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance driven on a single kilogram of hydrogen fuel.2 This feat, achieved on Sunday, June 25, involved an impressive drive of 2,488.4 kilometers (1,546.2 miles) over three days, mirroring the distance between Boston and Miami. The students operated in shifts, driving for 71.5 hours, with each stint lasting two hours.

This astounding accomplishment surpassed the previous record of 2,056 kilometers (1,277 miles), set just the previous May by an electric Renault Zoe powered by a methanol fuel cell. The location for this monumental achievement was Germany’s Immendigen track, a fitting venue for such a groundbreaking endeavor.

Engineering Excellence and Efficiency

The Eco-Runner XIII isn’t just a marvel of distance but also an embodiment of engineering ingenuity. This cloud-shaped, three-wheeled vehicle is the thirteenth iteration of the Eco-Runner series, first introduced in 2005. The designers meticulously crafted its components from lightweight carbon fiber instead of traditional steel, leading to enhanced efficiency and performance. Every aspect of energy conversion, from hydrogen to electricity and then to kinetic energy, was meticulously considered, showcasing the team’s unwavering commitment to minimizing energy losses.

One of the standout features of the Eco-Runner XIII is its usage of a state-of-the-art fuel cell. This cutting-edge technology played a pivotal role in achieving the record-breaking distance while maintaining optimal energy efficiency. The car’s weight of 72 kilograms (158 pounds) enables it to reach speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour (27 miles per hour). While it might not be a conventional road-trip companion, its success opens the door for hydrogen-fueled cars to inch closer to mainstream adoption.

A Sustainable Future Driven through Hydrogen-Fueled Cars

The Eco-Runner XIII’s achievement isn’t just a testament to engineering prowess; it also speaks to the growing significance of hydrogen as a clean energy solution. As electric cars continue to gain popularity, hydrogen vehicles provide a complementary alternative, addressing the limitations of electric grids and offering extended range possibilities. The integration of both hydrogen and electric vehicles represents a comprehensive strategy for sustainable mobility, highlighting that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in the pursuit of greener transportation.

The hydrogen vehicle market is on a trajectory of growth, with around 56,000 hydrogen cars sold worldwide in 2022 and projections indicating a market value of $17.88 billion by 2029. The unveiling of the first hydrogen energy refueling hub outside Amsterdam underscores the Netherlands’ commitment to fostering hydrogen-fueled cars and transportation. This step aligns seamlessly with the team’s vision of a future where hydrogen and electric cars work hand in hand to create a cleaner, more sustainable mobility landscape.

In conclusion, the record-breaking journey of the Eco-Runner XIII showcases the remarkable potential of hydrogen-fueled cars. As advancements in engineering and technology continue, these vehicles are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of sustainable transportation. The Eco-Runner XIII’s groundbreaking achievement not only propels the boundaries of hydrogen vehicle technology but also emphasizes the importance of collaborative approaches in achieving a greener world. With innovation as the driving force, hydrogen-fueled cars are undeniably steering us towards a cleaner, more sustainable automotive future.


  1. This tiny hydrogen-fueled car just broke a world record for going the distance.” Pop Sci. Sara Kelly Watson. July 5, 2023.
  2. Student team sets distance record with hydrogen city car concept.” New Atlas. Paul Ridden. July 3, 2023.