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Jaguar Land Rover to develop fuel cell-electric SUV

Jaguar Land Rover will develop a prototype hydrogen fuel cell-electric SUV under a government-funded program in the United Kingdom.

The project is part of a 73.5 million British pound (approximately $90.2 million) stimulus program for the automotive industry focused on green technology.

The hydrogen SUV project is called "ZEUS" for "zero and low-emissions vehicles in urban society." The announcement did not offer much detail on the vehicle, but said it would have "Jaguar Land Rover attributes," such as robust off-road capability.

In addition to ZEUS, the stimulus program will fund a Jaguar Land Rover project to develop a power electronics system for future battery-electric vehicles. BMW and Ford development projects will be funded by the program as well.

Land Rover Discovery Sport plug-in hybrid

To date, Jaguar Land Rover has primarily focused on plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles when it comes to alternative powertrains. The automaker is beginning to experiment with fuel cells at a time when some rivals are moving away from the technology.

Mercedes-Benz announced earlier this year that it would end fuel-cell development for passenger cars, shifting to commercial vehicle applications instead. BMW plans to launch a production version of the X5-based i Hydrogen Next concept in 2022, but it will be built in low volumes.

In March, BMW said a mass-market hydrogen model wouldn't be ready until the second half of the decade at the earliest, and then only if market conditions were favorable.

Only Honda, Hyundai and Toyota currently sell fuel cell cars, and U.S. sales are limited to California due to lack of fueling infrastructure elsewhere. U.S. startup Nikola Motors plans to sell battery-electric pickups and semi-trailer trucks that use fuel cells as range extenders, but the company has so far only shown prototypes.