Two years ago, the interest of German truck manufacturers and freight forwarders in fuel cells was extremely low. It’s different today. Almost all logistics companies are now in some way concerned with the question of what fuel their vehicles will be powered by in the future.
It is almost inevitable that hydrogen will also be considered in the context of these considerations. What is remarkable here is that this is usually not just a matter of a few thought games, but that numerous serious scenarios are now being designed and concrete projects initiated.
The development of FC technology in the commercial vehicle sector can be particularly well observed using the example of the US-American Nikola Motors Company. The start-up company, which wants to set up the appropriate infrastructure in addition to fuel cell trucks, is currently in the process of delivering a similar story in the truck sector as Tesla is in the passenger car sector. For months, Nikola’s managing director Trevor Milton has been the topic of conversation. So, it came as no surprise when truck manufacturer Iveco announced at the beginning of September 2019 that its US parent company CNH Industrial had bought itself in to Nikola with 250 million US dollars as part of the fourth round of financing. A short time later, Bosch and the South Korean group Hanwha followed, each investing more than 100 million dollars.
CNH said that fuel cell technology was the “logical next step after LNG motors (Liquefied Natural Gas)”. Gerrit Marx, President of Commercial and Special Vehicles at CNH Industrial, said: “While today LNG delivers significantly lower well-to-wheel emissions, which can be virtually reduced to zero using biogas, fuel cell and BEV technologies [Battery Electric Vehicle] will deliver the ultimate goal of an emission-free truck in the medium to long term.”
In addition to money, the CNH subsidiary Iveco and its sister company FPT Industrial will also provide support for the development and production activities of both battery and fuel cell trucks. In November 2018, the engine specialist FPT itself also presented a drive concept based on hydrogen (400 kW, 800 km; see H2-international issue 2018). This know-how will now also flow into the One and Two models designed for the US market, as well as the Tre model (expected by the end of 2022) for Europe, for which Nikola and CNH Industrial are planning to set up a start-up.
read more in H2-international January 2020