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China gives CATL, BYD and a fuel-cell startup a second wind

Battery makers' no-cobalt power packs gain advantage while Re-Fire finds durability

Re-Fire Vice President Audrey Ma with a 110kW hydrogen fuel cell system for commercial vehicles. Ma predicts some drivers will be more comfortable with fuel-cell vehicles than with EVs.

SHANGHAI -- In the ragged countryside of Tibet, three buddies in their 30s pondered their next move one afternoon in 2014 as their 5-year-old hydrogen fuel cell project with an automaker was coming to an end.

Robin Lin, the project leader, and his team were in Tibet, in China's southwest, as part of a 30-province tour they embarked on to test-drive a fuel cell-powered vehicle they were working on. They ended up spending six months on the road.

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