Like Clean Logistics in northern Germany, Quantron, headquartered in Gersthofen near Augsburg in the south of the country, is planning to convert diesel trucks to run on fuel cells. Founded by Andreas Haller last summer, the business presented a fuel cell truck concept this June before revealing more details about the vehicle at a press conference and during a workshop in Frankfurt in early August. Haller not only managed to get multiple partners on board, but his new company has also been endorsed by climate change advocate Hannes Jaenicke.
Although people might easily associate Quantron, an abbreviation originating with the phrase “quantum leap in electronics,” with a Californian start-up business, it is the name of a family-owned southern German firm with a long history in the industry. In 1882, Quantron began operating horse carriages under the name Haller. After five generations as a supplier of motorized taxi cabs as well as agricultural and other specialized equipment, it shifted its focus to electrically powered commercial vehicles in 2011.
“Thanks to our long history, we have deep experience in the industry, know its customers and their requirements, and can respond quickly to changes in the market.”
Andreas Haller, founder and chief executive of Quantron and CEO of Haller
At first, the company focused exclusively on batteries, especially by outfitting newer generations of used trucks with electric motors. To this end, Quantron partnered with companies such as electric powertrain manufacturer Voith and Frankfurt-based waste disposal service FES, which added Quantron vehicles to its fleet of trash trucks. In the meantime, the firm has grown to 40 staff, with 120 being employed by the Haller Group in total.
Mid-June saw Quantron unveil its latest model, Energon, a 44-ton FCEV for transporting goods. Quantron stated a range of around 435 miles (700 kilometers), made possible by a 130-kilowatt fuel cell and a 110-kilowatt-hour CATL battery powering a 340-kilowatt two-speed motor. The fuel cells are manufactured by Freudenberg, which supplies the vehicle conversion company with complete systems instead of individual components.
Manfred Stefener, vice president of Freudenberg’s fuel cell division, told H2-international that his firm has come to see itself as a system provider intent on creating immense value across the transportation sector, and not just in the vehicle market. Another example of the supplier’s fuel cell focus is its plan to build powerful methanol systems for the maritime industry.
Quantron has so far been converting Iveco Strator tractor-trailers to run on fuel cells. Unlike most trucks sold in Europe, they have long hoods, making them easier to convert than cab-overs, according to Quantron’s marketing manager, Thomas Thiel. Still, other models will be offered eventually. Two pilot trucks will presumably be tested in the second quarter of 2021 and initial shipments to customers are scheduled for late 2022.
In mid-July, it became clear that Quantron is additionally targeting the medium-duty truck market. It announced that, together with AE Driven Solutions (see box), it plans to offer converted Iveco Daily pickup and box trucks. The companies presented a concept named Quantron Q-LIH2 (see image on p. 3), which will reportedly have a maximum range of 249 miles (400 kilometers) and be able to carry up to 1.2 tons.
In this market, Quantron’s systems of choice are range extenders. These devices will allow the company to offer 4.2-ton models with 100 kilowatts of output or 7.2-ton HDVs with 147 kilowatts, regardless of whether the trucks are new, secondhand or currently in use.
Haller also intends to build a hydrogen fueling infrastructure, though not by installing publicly accessible stations like Tesla has done and Nikola is planning to do. Instead, he told H2-international that his company is already in talks with several businesses about putting up stations on fleet vehicle operators‘ premises.
According to Nikolas Iwan, H2 Mobility’s chief executive, Germany had 84 hydrogen stations in August. However, not even 10 percent of those could fuel HDVs. Only in the coming years will we see more stations for filling up vehicles that consume large amounts of 350-bar hydrogen, he said. But before that can happen, the equipment will need to be standardized.
read more in H2-international October 2020