August 4, 2021

Hopium, the “Frenchy” dreamed of in a Tesla of hydrogen

A dark-haired man wearing rings, bracelets, razor-sharp tattoo with his well-cut suit, and, despite the hint of beard, looks young. Very young. This is what the French Elon Musk looks like on hydrogen. Olivier Lombard, just 30 years old, is not a small computer genius, but a pure product of car culture, a young retiree from high-level racing (he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011 in LMP2 category), which intends to create a car brand from scratch.

The juvenile founding president of the car brand Hopium will present his very first hydrogen super-sedan, the Mãchina, in Paris on Thursday June 17. The luxury machine will display 500 horsepower, 1,000 kilometers of range in a single tank of hydrogen and will cost 120,000 euros. The timing is important for the future of Hopium and Mr. Lombard. It will be a question of validating a bet at 300 million euros – this is the amount of the long-term financing need of Hopium – which makes this young growth a kind of hydrogen Tesla, even if the prestigious name is never spoken.

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The Ile-de-France, born not far from the Peugeot plant in Poissy (Yvelines), may have been bottle-fed with motor oil, he firmly believes in the advantages of high-end “H2 mobility”, like the founder. de Tesla believed in battery cars before anyone else. “The ease of charging, three minutes instead of twenty minutes for an electric, will be a decisive argument in favor of hydrogen”, argues the young boss, who was also test pilot of an endurance racing prototype powered by this gas. It is therefore logical that Olivier Lombard personally supervised the development of the car. As for the design of the Mãchina, it was entrusted to a young automotive designer, Félix Godard, who worked for Porsche and… for Tesla.

Between Paris, Montlhéry and Los Angeles

Hopium has global ambitions and dreams of being present in the three big potential hydrogen markets: Europe, Asia and the United States. For this, it relies on a highly studied technological and industrial organization. If the head office is located in the beautiful Parisian districts, a stone’s throw from the Elysée Palace, the development site is located near the Linas-Montlhéry (Essonne) circuit. As a guarantee of the industrial soundness of the project, it is the supplier Plastic Omnium which will supply the Mãchina’s hydrogen tank. As for the digital research and development teams, which work in particular on blockchain technologies, they are located in Los Angeles.

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Despite this West Coast air, the comparison with Tesla obviously has its limits. It would probably be more relevant to make the analogy with the Californian company Hyperion, which concocts an ultra-sports hydrogen “hypercar”, a potential competitor of Hopium. Hopium aims for 2030 a reasonable production of 8,000 vehicles per year, which has not prevented it from attracting several private business leaders, who in December 2020 accompanied its introduction on the Access market for start-ups. up of the Paris Bourse.

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