Hydrogen-powered e-trucks are the key to CO2-neutral transport, says Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG. Together with Volvo, he wants to start series production of fuel cells in Europe in 2025. What is missing are the hydrogen filling stations for these trucks. There should be at least 300 in Europe by 2025 and around 1,000 by 2030 at the latest, demand Daum and Volvo boss Martin Lundstedt.
You are faced with a chicken-and-egg problem: without fuel cell trucks, hydrogen filling stations make no sense. Without a hydrogen supply, the fuel cell trucks have no rope. Now the two companies are holding out the prospect of significant investments: They want to build a large fuel cell factory at a location in Europe that has not yet been selected, with series production scheduled to start in 2025. The hope is that this will convince Europe’s politicians to invest in a hydrogen filling station network.
In addition, the truck manufacturers want a “policy framework” that should guarantee the demand and affordability of CO2-neutral trucks. In other words: subsidies, because the trucks will be significantly more expensive, at least initially, and even higher taxes on conventional fuels. And: “Emissions trading could be another option,” is that joint press release refer to.
Cellcentric in Baden-Württemberg and British Columbia
Volvo and Daimler are bundling their fuel cell development in a joint venture. It was founded last year and has more than 300 employees in Stuttgart and the Vancouver area on Canada’s west coast. You have already secured more than 700 patents. Initially founded as “Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG”, the company now operates under the name cellcentric.
The planned location of the large factory is to be chosen next year. Cellcentric is currently working on prototypes. According to the information, preparations are underway in Esslingen for the establishment of a factory for pre-series fuel cells.
Cellcentrics is not responsible for producing the vehicles themselves. Daimler Truck and Volvo remain competitors in this area. The first beta tests with end customers are expected to begin in around three years, with series production starting in the second half of the decade. This is not a move away from e-trucks, whose power comes from batteries. Such commercial vehicles should be used in the future with lower loads and shorter distances.
H2Accelerate with Shell and OMV
The two corporations are not just waiting for political tailwinds. Last year, together with Iveco, Shell and the Austrian energy company OMV, they announced an initiative for the decarbonisation of European truck traffic. Under the name “H2Accelerate”, they want to jointly promote the environmentally friendly production of hydrogen, infrastructure for the large-scale transport of hydrogen, a filling station network and the production of suitable vehicles.