11 Aug 22

Hyundai expands hydrogen truck fleet in Europe

The truck division of Korean car manufacturer Hyundai is making a case for hydrogen-powered heavy transport in Germany. It will deliver 27 Xcient fuel cell trucks to seven logistics, manufacturing, and retail companies across the country.

This fleet accompanies Hyundai’s test pilot in Switzerland, where some fifty Xcient Trucks are under roll-out. In Germany, the program received backing from the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), which manages a funding for clean commercial transportation worth 1.6 billion.

Equipped with two fuel cell stacks (90 kW each), assisted by a battery pack, the Xcient trucks have a range of 400 km, returning nothing more than water vapor from their exhaust pipes. But, more importantly, it doesn’t take more than 8 to 20 minutes to fill the tanks, which can store 32 kg of liquid hydrogen.

An edge over battery-power

This gives them an edge over pure battery-powered trucks, which regain only half of that autonomy (200 km) in double the time (45 mins). As downtime plays a crucial role in cost management, this could be a differentiator. With a higher TCO for fuel cell trucks compared to their battery-powered equivalents, due to higher fuel cost, this is one of their main advantages. Still, subsidies will prove crucial because without them parity with diesel trucks is not expected before 2040 (BEV: 2030).

The heavy-duty truck sector is under pressure to cut CO2 emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) tailpipe emissions for this segment have increased annually by 2.2% on average since 2000. However, EU guidelines stipulate that truck emissions should be 30% lower in 2030 than 2019. These can not be obtained by improving ICE technology by itself.

While infrastructure remains the Achilles heel for hydrogen adoption, the scale for constructing a network of filling stations is less comprehensive than one might think. According to the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI Germany needs 70 stations to meet the demands of roughly half a million FCEV trucks by the decade's end.

The good news is that the country already has 96 hydrogen filling stations in operation, the bad is that most of these are not suitable for trucks.

While Hyundai wants to be at the forefront, it remains prudent in its forecasts. It plans a fleet of 1,600 hydrogen trucks by 2025 spread over major markets in Europe. Germany has 1,000 battery-powered trucks today. These numbers mirror the situation for passenger cars, where electricity charged directly in a battery pack seems to overshadow fuel cells.

Image Source: Hyundai

Authored by: Piet Andries