Daimler Trucks takes next steps with fuel-cell trucks

In News, Daimler, Mercedes-Benz6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 21, 2021

Daimler Trucks aims to achieve ranges of up to 1000km without any stops for refuelling with its next-generation hydrogen trucks, and in late April the truck manufacturer began to conduct rigorous tests of the first new enhanced prototype of its Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, unveiled in 2020.

According to Daimler Trucks‘ development plan, the vehicle will also be tested on public roads before the end of the year. Customer trials are scheduled to begin in 2023. The first series-produced GenH2 Trucks are expected to be handed over to customers starting in 2027.

“The hydrogen-powered fuel-cell drive will become indispensable for CO2-neutral long-haul road transport in the future. This is also confirmed by our many partners with whom we are working together at full steam to put this technology on the road in series-production vehicles. Moreover, considerable momentum is being generated by the clear commitment of national and European regulators to the use of hydrogen for road freight transport. Political support plays an important role in promoting the creation of an infrastructure for green hydrogen and making an economically viable use of fuel-cell trucks possible for our customers,” says Martin Daum, chairman of the board of management of Daimler Truck AG and member of the board of management of Daimler AG:

The development engineers at Daimler Trucks are designing the GenH2 Truck so that the vehicle and its components meet the same durability requirements as a comparable conventional Mercedes-Benz Actros. This means 1.2 million kilometres on the road over a period of ten years and a total of 25,000 hours of operation.

During the first few weeks of testing, the vehicle has already covered hundreds of kilometres under continuous load on a road-to-rig test stand and gone through many extreme situations that are based on real-life operating conditions, such as emergency braking and kerbstone drives along the test track.

The GenH2 Truck has been newly designed from the ground up. The developers are particularly focusing on its completely new components during the tests; which include the fuel-cell system, the all-electric powertrain, and all of the associated systems such as the special cooling unit. In addition, the new components‘ specific weight and position in the vehicle affect the truck‘s handling properties. As a result, the vibrations caused by bumpy roads, for example, and especially by extreme situations, subject the fuel-cell truck to different forces than those in conventional vehicles. In order to obtain extensive information about this at an early stage, the current prototype is loaded during the tests with a payload of up to 25 tonnes for a gross vehicle weight of about 40 tonnes.

Daimler Trucks is also forging ahead with the development of tank technologies for liquid hydrogen. By the end of the year, the engineers plan to have a new prototype tank system sufficiently mature to be used to continue the ongoing demanding tests of the GenH2 Truck. The vehicle tests will then be conducted exclusively with liquid hydrogen tank systems until the series-production stage is reached. Until this can be done, the extensive internal testing of the GenH2 Truck will use a gaseous hydrogen tank system as an interim solution. Daimler Trucks is thus demonstrating that both hydrogen variants can be technically implemented.

 Daimler Truck and Shell target accelerated rollout of hydrogen-based trucking in Europe

Meanwhile, Daimler Truck AG and Shell New Energies NL B.V. (“Shell”) have signed an agreement to jointly drive the adoption of hydrogen-based fuel-cell trucks in Europe.

Shell intends to initially rollout a hydrogen-refuelling network joining three green hydrogen production hubs at the Port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands as well as Cologne and Hamburg in Germany. From 2024, Shell aims to launch heavy-duty refuelling stations between the three locations and Daimler Truck aims to hand over the first heavy-duty hydrogen trucks to customers subsequently in 2025. The plan aims to continuously expand the hydrogen powered freight corridor, which will cover 1200km by 2025, in order to deliver 150 hydrogen refuelling stations and around 5,000 Mercedes-Benz heavy-duty fuel cell trucks by 2030.

Both Daimler Truck and Shell are founding members of the recently launched H2Accelerate consortium and consider the group a key vehicle to support the rollout of hydrogen-powered transport in Europe.

The agreement builds on Daimler Truck‘s fuel-cell truck rollout plans and is an extension of Shell Group‘s existing hydrogen refuelling networks in Europe and North America.