Daimler premieres new green trucks with eye on mass production in the second half of the decade
Daimler Trucks has shown-off two new trucks using fuel cell and battery technology as the race to produce alternative-fuel trucks gathers pace
Daimler has revealed two new trucks running on hydrogen fuel cells and battery power, as it rushes to have commercial production of greener models at scale by the second half of the decade.
The GenH2 hydrogen fuel cell truck
The first model revealed by Daimler is the GenH2 Truck. The new truck aims to match the conventional Mercedes-Benz Actros long-haul truck with regard to tractive power, range, and performance. This means that the GenH2 Truck is to have a gross vehicle weight of 40 tons and a payload of 25 tons.
Daimler is hoping that the ability of hydrogen to be stored in fuel tanks in relatively large amounts, alongside European investment into hydrogen technology and infrastructure will make the truck commercially attractive and ameliorate the issues associated with electric trucks.
Two special liquid-hydrogen tanks and a fuel-cell system will make the payload and long range possible.
The two stainless-steel liquid-hydrogen tanks intended for the series version of the GenH2 Truck will have a high storage capacity of 80 kilograms (40 kg each) for covering long distances. The fuel-cell system is to supply 2 x150 kilowatts and the battery is to provide an additional 400 kW temporarily. At 70 kWh, the storage capacity of the battery is relatively low, as it is not intended to meet energy needs, but mainly to be switched on to provide situational power support for the fuel cell, for example during peak loads while accelerating or while driving uphill fully loaded.
Daimler will need to overcome a huge challenge in the fuel system, in that they are looking to utilise liquid hydrogen, as it has far higher energy density in relation to volume than gaseous hydrogen. This means that the truck can have higher range, as well as a larger cargo space and higher payload weight due to smaller fuel tanks. However, this requires a sophisticated cooling and heating system that keeps all components at the ideal operating temperature, with cryogenic liquid hydrogen having to be cooled at -253 degrees Celsius.
The Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul electric truck
There was also a preview of a purely battery-powered long-haul truck, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. This is designed to cover regular journeys on plannable routes, which is also the strategy of the now in-trouble electric truck maker Nikola.
Daimler said in a release that the range of the series-produced eActros on one battery charge will significantly exceed that of the prototype’s approximately 200 kilometers and estimates that it can extend this out to 500 kilometers. Additionally, Daimler Trucks will start series production of a purely battery-powered heavy-duty truck next year.
The Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul battery-powered long-haul truck will be in the same vehicle class as the GenH2 truck. Its features will be largely identical to those of the series-produced GenH2 Truck or a conventional diesel truck.
Daimler Trucks plans to have the eActros LongHaul ready for series production in 2024.
Its timelines for fuel cells are slightly longer, as Daimler Trucks plans to begin customer trials of the GenH2 Truck in 2023 and has pencilled in series production to start in the second half of the decade.
It stated in a release that by the year 2022, Daimler Trucks’ portfolio in its main sales regions – Europe, the USA and Japan – is to include series-produced vehicles with battery-electric drive. The company also has the ambition to offer only new vehicles that are CO2-neutral in driving operation (“from tank to wheel”) in Europe, North America and Japan by 2039.
In April this year, Daimler Truck AG concluded a preliminary, non-binding agreement with the Volvo Group to establish a new joint venture for the development to series maturity, production and commercialization of fuel-cell systems for use in heavy-duty commercial vehicles and other applications. They hope that joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems.
Daimler also hopes to cut costs and timelines through using a standard worldwide modular platform architecture, the so-called ePowertrain, which will form the technological basis of all medium- and heavy-duty CO2-neutral, all-electric series-produced trucks from Daimler Trucks.
Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, said “We are consistently pursuing our vision of CO2-neutral transport with a focus on the genuinely locally CO2-neutral technologies battery power and hydrogen-based fuel cells, which have the potential to succeed in the market in the long term. This combination enables us to offer our customers the best vehicle options, depending on the application. Battery power will be rather used for lower cargo weights and for shorter distances. Fuel-cell power will tend to be the preferred option for heavier loads and longer distances.”
“Our customers make rational purchasing decisions and are unwilling to compromise on their trucks’ suitability for everyday use, tonnage and range. With our alternative drive concepts from Mercedes-Benz – the GenH2 Truck, the eActros LongHaul and the eActros – and our electric trucks of the Freightliner and FUSO brands, we have a clear focus on customer requirements and are creating genuine locally CO2-neutral alternatives for them. We have now set out the key technological specifications of our electric trucks so that the requirements are known to everyone involved at an early stage. It is now up to policymakers, other players and society as a whole to provide the right framework conditions. To make CO2-neutral all-electric vehicles competitive, regulatory and government action is needed, including the necessary infrastructure for charging with green electricity and for the production, storage and transport of green liquid hydrogen,” Daum continued.