New hydrogen taxi service allows Hamburg to hail cabs guilt-free

If you've ever regretted hopping into a cab because you can't face walking home in the rain then CleverShuttle have a ride-sharing solution which won't burn a hole in your pocket or the Ozone.

New hydrogen taxi service allows Hamburg to hail cabs guilt-free
Enak Ferlemann, Bruno Ginnuth, Frank Horch, Kay Uwe Arnecke and Tom Fux. Photo:DPA

Since September 8th a total of 10 hydrogen-powered Toyotas have been prowling the inner city of Hamburg waiting for you to (digitally) hail them.

Customers can book the taxis using a smartphone app. And if there are lots of journeys being booked in the vicinity, the app's algorithm will automatically pair you with travellers going to the same area, reducing fuel consumption and therefore the fare for both parties.

According to Deutsche Bahn, which partly owns CleverShuttle, customers could save around 40% compared to normal taxi fares, and all whilst choosing a carbon neutral form of travel.

The service has been compared to Uber. But thanks to its slightly different operating system, CleverShuttle, unlike Uber Pop, hasn't been banned from many German cities.

Deutsche Bahn has been involved with the start-up since 2015 and CleverShuttle has already pioneered its service in Leipzig and Munich, as well as in the company’s home city of Berlin.

CleverShuttle has already announced plans to begin operating in Dresden, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt within the next year, while they also plan to at least double their fleet in the Hamburg city centre by the end of 2017.

The taxis themselves are brand new Toyotas which run completely on a hydrogen fuel cell, the infrastructure for which is in its infancy. But this appears to be changing.

The introduction of hydrogen powered cars has only been made possible by the increase in hydrogen refuelling stations (or HRSs). While there are currently only 18 operational HRSs in the country, providing limited scope for long-distance driving in a hydrogen-fuelled car, this number is planned to rise to 100 by the end of 2018.

The vehicles themselves have a reinforced fuel tank to compensate for the volatile nature of hydrogen and sensors ensure that, if a crash occurs, the flow of hydrogen is stopped so it doesn't escape the tank and ignite.


REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.