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.
The good news is that fuel cells for materials handling equipment are no longer confined to a niche market. Entire warehouses in North America are currently being served by hydrogen-powered forklift trucks. This type of fuel cell application is also becoming increasingly popular in Asia and Europe, but their logistics industries will have some catching up to do.
Hydrogenics (Nasdaq: HYGS) has a full schedule with USD 151.2 million in backlog for several types of fuel cell applications, from truck conversion kits (Scania in Norway) to bus stacks in China to H2 refueling stations and power-to-gas systems. A loss of USD 5.7 million (minus USD 0.45 per share) in the second quarter can be considered a temporary slump, as the company said that some shipments had been moved to the third. Hydrogenics intends to stick to the forecast it had published for the entire year.
Soon, Toyota may not only be known for its fuel cell cars and buses, but for trucks as well. A new initiative called Project Portal aims to build a 36-ton truck equipped with two fuel cell stacks originally designed for the Mirai. They will be supported by a 12-kilowatt-hour battery to provide 500 kilowatts of output and 1,800 Nm of torque at a range of 320 kilometers (199 miles).
As early as last November, Switzerland saw the opening of its first public hydrogen station. But soon, it will create a whole new chapter with a fleet of hydrogen trucks to be brought into operation. A prototype has already been in use in the Zurich area.
Even at the IAA Commercial Vehicles from Sept. 22 to 29, 2016, electric transportation was talked about – albeit not very much. For example, Volkswagen presented his e-Crafter concept study, which even EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger and federal transportation minister Alexander Dobrindt paid a visit during their trade show tour. Delivery of the first units of this electric transporter with a top speed of 80 kph (50 mph) is expected for this year.
Despite announcements to the contrary, the H2 project in Glattfelden in the Swiss canton of Zurich (see HZwei issue from July 2015) will deliver on its promises. At the beginning of March 2016, rumors had it that Axpo and Coop would stop their joint project. The project’s coordinator, Hansjörg Vock from H2 Energy, told H2-international that “the rumors weren’t true,” as “only Axpo had exited the project,” but had done so by mutual agreement.
The Hydrogen Information Truck H2M, a tractor-trailer, began its road tour through Europe in Italy in spring 2015. The tour’s starting location on April 20 was the Italian parliament; the final destination was Paris at the end of 2015.There, the truck advertises for sustainable environmental policies during the UN Climate Conference (COP 21).