Australia's car manufacturing industry could be reborn in Wollongong with the first vehicles rolling off a Port Kembla production line within two years.
H2X Australia has plans to not only make cars powered by hydrogen and electric technology but create up to 5000 jobs in the process.
Brendan Norman and his business partner Chris Reitz lead a team who have worked in the auto industry for many years.
If the market is considered ready they plan to start production of the first hydrogen passenger vehicle at Port Kembla within two years.
But the timing of the first model is contingent on hydrogen refueling infrastructure being ready to support such vehicles in Australia, especially in major cities.
"The passenger car (SUV) is a vehicle that we could release by 2022. If we see that the market is there then that is a vehicle we would then push. But we need to judge when exactly the cities will have a decent coverage of hydrogen storage in enough locations. I believe by 2024 at the latest, hydrogen passenger vehicles will be here".
But H2X wants to be ready in case that is possible in 2022 because the business wants to be a global market leader.
Which is why it is starting to employ people with suitable skills now.
"We will have at least 100 people hired by the end of this year," Mr Norman said.
"We have to start doing a lot of the activities and preparation".
Job numbers will grow further in 2021 for other industrial products being launched before the first passengers vehicle.
There are several reasons why Port Kembla was chosen as the preferred location to start production.
"We have an investment partner (Ken Mathews) who has an interest in hydrogen activities in Port Kembla including a green hydrogen plant which is being considered at the moment," Mr Norman said.
"So this is for us a very good opportunity to be placed somewhere where we have good access to hydrogen. Of course you have a deep water port there as well which means means export potential is there for us".
Mr Norman said making cars at Port Kembla would take advantage of the great talent pool in the Illawarra and Australia. He said it was too soon to say whether everything involved in the manufacture of the cars would be located in Port Kembla but that is where it is all going to start.
"I believe at least 1500 jobs will stay in Port Kembla. But it could be as high as 5000 jobs over about a five year period".
"That is what we have as a target. But we still have to work out how it is all going to fit together. We have to make sure that we bring something which is suited for the Australian conditions".
With an international market in mind H2X is also setting itself up to be very nimble and adaptable.
"We are all very open to newer technologies," Mr Norman said.
"We are not 100 per cent married to the idea that hydrogen is the only solution. We are focused on making sure we have the best solution.
"In some cases if that means more battery than hydrogen that is what we will put in the vehicle.
"It is a matter of studying the applications and getting it right. Australia is a great place to do that".
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