NZ Post’s hydrogen truck performing well

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 28, 2023

NZ Post is reporting some key findings following a year-long trial of New Zealand’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered truck.

The Hyundai Xcient FCEV was launched here in July last year as part of an initial evaluation period.

It has since moved into full commercial operations delivering parcel freight between Auckland and Hamilton.

Feedback from NZ Post says the truck sails up the Bombay Hills without losing power or speed, accelerates faster than fossil fuel vehicles, and incurs less driver fatigue.

Ryan Beale, NZ Post’s National Road Operations manager, who has been overseeing the trial, said current testing has the hydrogen truck operating around the South Auckland business area and between NZ Post’s South Auckland and Highbrook depots.

Longer-range testing has been between Highbrook and Waikato depots. The truck has been clocking between 350 and 400km a day, at an optimal cruise speed of 85 to 88km/h, maintaining the same point to point schedule time.

“The testing is to evaluate the vehicle’s suitability for our freight and the routes we serve,” Beale said.

“Within the current constraints, refuelling is taking place in Auckland while we await further network development.”

New government-funded hydrogen refuelling sites are due to open in Wiri, Te Rapa, Tauranga, and Palmerston North in coming months, enabling refuelling in 15 minutes. The additional fuelling sites will open up longer routes and 24/7 operations.

Beale said the hydrogen truck, configured for European standards and conditions, underwent an extensive range of tests and software adjustments to meet operational standards and compliance requirements for New Zealand regulations and road conditions before it was ready for the trial.

New Zealand is second in the world to adopt this technology in a commercial setting. The other is Switzerland where 50 such trucks are in commercial use.

“This project has been two years in the making. This truck is ideal for NZ Post as a transporter of high volume, lower weight freight,” said Grant Doull, national manager Hydrogen & Eco Commercial Vehicles at Hyundai Motors New Zealand.

“Evidence and performance data gathered in the trial will be of value to everybody in the transport sector. It’s been a valuable partnership with NZ Post who are strong in sustainability leadership to trial this future-focussed technology.”

The next stage of the trial is to use it in more urban settings for deliveries.

Based on typical heavy vehicle mileage, one fuel cell EV truck in operation avoids the equivalent CO2 of around 112 fossil fuel light vehicles – making a big difference with each heavy fuel cell vehicle.