Trucks and hydrogen: All projects in progress

Trucks and hydrogen: All projects in progress

Yet in the case of more or less advanced models, heavy-duty vehicles are moving forward because of the battery hydrogen fuel cells won’t go on sale until the second half of this decade. Here is the progress of the builder’s projects.

Even before their battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) fill our streets and roads, automakers are insisting that hydrogen-powered trucks will be a commercial reality by the end of the decade, whether they’re hydrogen-powered battery electrics that generate electricity, known as fuel cell (FC), or driven by a combustion engine. In both cases, they will only produce water, but in both cases, the priority will be placed: the availability of “green” hydrogen, made from renewable energy, and not of “grey” hydrogen, derived from hydrocarbons. it is not


Mercedes-Benz hydrogen
Mercedes-Benz prefers liquid hydrogen for its GenH2.

Revealed in 2020 through the GenH2 Truck prototype, Mercedes with FC (under Actros cab, 40 t set, 25 t payload) has entered, since April 2021, a phase of extensive testing on home tracks and on open roads.

Tests with customers will begin next year and the delivery of the first production models is planned around 2027-2028. The manufacturer has also created a model using liquid hydrogen (cooled and stored at -253 ° C in two 40 kg tanks), which can exceed 1,000 km. Daimler Truck has just said that it favors this solution for the development of hydrogen trucks.


Volvo hydrogen trucks
Volvo Trucks is advertising a 1,000km range for its fuel cell truck. Departure is planned for the second half of the decade.

Intended to represent 40% of its sales in 2040, the FC truck doesn’t make any headway at Volvo Trucks. Trials with test customers “will begin in a few years” and sales should begin “in the second half of the decade”.

At the technical level, a range of 1,000 kilometers has been mentioned, two batteries capable of generating 300 kW, a refueling time of less than a quarter of an hour and, above all, batteries provided by Cellcentric, a joint venture created in 2020 by Daimler. Trucks and Volvo AB to develop, produce and sell fuel cells for trucks.


A fuel cell truck version from the French brand is expected in the second half of the 2020s. As with the BEV, the group effect plays an integral role in fuel cell development. In fact, the road map of Renault Trucks cannot differ from that of Volvo Trucks.


DAF hydrogen
The Daf prototype presented nine months ago has two hydrogen gas tanks.

Designed from the ground up to accept any alternative “fuel”, the latest generation XF, XG and XG+ are already available as a BEV model and also with hydrogen propulsion. For this last solution, two technologies (PAC or internal combustion) are being investigated by the American group Paccar, owner of Daf. As part of a zero-emissions project at the Port of Los Angeles, ten Kenworth T680 FCEVs (60 kg of hydrogen, 480 km range) have been operating for almost a year, in partnership with Toyota for batteries and Shell for hydrogen.

In Europe, Daf is developing an internal combustion engine on its MX diesel that is being converted to a spark ignition engine. The model presented nine months ago had two hydrogen gas tanks, guaranteeing 150 km of autonomy. In both cases, no sale date has been announced.


The Nikola TRE model powered by hydrogen under the Iveco S-Way cab should be tested at the end of the year in Fos-sur-Mer (13).

In the fuel cell truck, Nikola, an Iveco partner, is developing its TRE model under the S-Way cab. Prototype tractor trials are planned for the end of the year in Fos-sur-Mer (13). Revealed last March, the agreement signed between Hyundai and Iveco on possible cooperation in the field, among others, “of electric platforms, including fuel cell systems for heavy goods vehicles”, however provides a light new on the future of Iveco trucks in PAC.

The Korean manufacturer has had experience in this area. In Switzerland, its fleet of 46 XCient Fuel Cells (32 kg of hydrogen, 400 km of autonomy), delivered for lease to the Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility joint venture founded by the company H2 Energy, celebrated a million kilometers last year.


In the current state of the existing energy infrastructure, Scania is more reliable with battery-powered vehicles (and their future development) than with fuel cell vehicles (due to overall energy efficiency). However, the Swedish manufacturer has announced that it is working on the production, by 2024, of 20 fuel cell trucks as part of the HyTrucks project initiated by the port of Rotterdam and Air Liquide. Assembled on the Scania BEV platform, with the cooperation of Cummins for everything related to the battery, these vehicles will be powered by “green” hydrogen.


The German manufacturer, like the Traton group to which it belongs and like its counterpart Scania, is focusing on battery-powered electric motors. When “green” hydrogen will be available in sufficient quantity and the appropriate infrastructure will be in place, i.e. well after 2030, we will also bet on the introduction of hydrogen trucks for certain types of operations.», said Alexander Vlaskamp, ​​CEO of MAN Truck & Bus, when presenting the “Bayern Fleet” project. For the latter, MAN will develop, with Bosch, Faurecia and ZF, five fuel cell trucks, which will be delivered to customers in mid-2024 for a one-year trial. The manufacturer is also working on a combustion engine.

Jean-Luc Foucret

How it works?

The principle of the hydrogen fuel cell is the opposite of electrolysis that many students have experienced in natural science or SVT classes, depending on the generation, to break water into oxygen and hydrogen. In a car equipped with such equipment, the battery produces current thanks to a chemical reaction (redox) that causes the transfer of electrons between two electrons. Oxygen (mainly dioxygen) is in the air, hydrogen (mainly dihydrogen) is in the air.