Hyundai to trial hydrogen fuel cell trucks

Hyundai is to begin trialling 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell trucks with fleet operators in Switzerland as the manufacturer looks to build the financial and environmental case for moving away from diesel.

The trial, which starts next year and will last until 2023, is being underwritten by Hyundai. Fleets will pay per use, with the fee including maintenance and fuelling.

However, the company says that, while the trucks are more expensive to purchase than diesel equivalents, the total cost of ownership model is the same.

It chose Switzerland for two reasons. First, the taxation laws exempt zero emission vehicles from road tax, potential saving operators up to £50,000 a year (roughly £40 per 60 miles driven for an 18-tonne Euro 6 truck). Second, the H2 Energy network, which ensures a ready supply of hydrogen. It has committed to set up a refuelling station for every 10 trucks.

Mark Freymueller, Hyundai commercial vehicle new business project director, said fuel cell was a better fit than battery-electric for heavy-duty trucks.

“It charges faster, in just a few minutes, and it has a payload similar to a diesel truck,” he explained. “It is more suitable for longer-haul operations. But, for last-mile, shorter journeys, battery-electric is probably the best option.”

The first trucks will be 4x2, with 6x2 to follow up to a weight of 40 tonnes with trailer. They have a range of up to 400km (250 miles) and the eight hydrogen storage tanks can be filled in around seven minutes. The system produces 190kW of power, and the electric motor makes the equivalent of 465PS and 3390Nm of torque.

“Our plan is to expand to different European markets,” Freymueller said. “But it depends on the different roadmaps. The key is it has to be a viable business case for customers. It’s not just about the truck, it’s also the infrastructure and the hydrogen. But the demand is there.”

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