Volvo Trucks to launch fuel cell electric trucks by end of decade
Photo courtesy of Volvo Trucks

Volvo Trucks to launch fuel cell electric trucks by end of decade

Volvo Trucks announced that it plans to commercially launch fuel cell electric trucks with an operations range comparable to many diesel trucks—up to 1,000 kilometres (km)—and a refueling time of less than 15 minutes in the latter part of this decade. The total weight can be around 65 tons or even higher, and the two fuel cells have the capacity to generate 300 kilowatts (KW) of electricity onboard.

Part of the Volvo Group and one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines, the company said it will start customer pilots in a few years.

To decarbonise transport, Volvo Trucks today offers battery electric trucks and trucks that run on renewable fuels, such as biogas. In the second half of this decade, a third CO2-neutral option will be added to its product portfolio – fuel cell electric trucks powered by hydrogen.

“We have been developing this technology for some years now, and it feels great to see the first trucks successfully running on the test track. The combination of battery electric and fuel cell electric will enable our customers to completely eliminate CO exhaust emissions from their trucks, no matter transport assignments,” says Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks.

“Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks will be especially suitable for long distances and heavy, energy-demanding assignments. They could also be an option in countries where battery charging possibilities are limited,” says Alm.

A fuel cell generates its own electricity from the hydrogen onboard instead of being charged from an external source. The only byproduct emitted is water vapor.

Cellcentric to supply fuel cells

The fuel cells will be supplied by cellcentric—the joint venture between the Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG. Cellcentric will build one of Europe’s largest series production facilities for fuel cells, specially developed for heavy vehicles.

Fuel cell technology is still in an early phase of development and there are many benefits with the new technology, but also some challenges lay ahead. One of them is large-scale supply of green hydrogen. Another is the fact that refueling infrastructure for heavy vehicles is yet to be developed.

“We expect the supply of green hydrogen to increase significantly during the next couple of years, since many industries will depend on it to reduce CO2. However, we cannot wait to decarbonise transport, we are already running late. So, my clear message to all transport companies is to start the journey today with battery electric, biogas and the other options available. The fuel cell trucks will then be an important complement for longer and heavier transports in a few years from now,”
says Alm.