Battery or hydrogen? Truck makers battle it out in race for a cleaner electrical future


Hovering gas costs and greener insurance policies have given electrical automobiles (EVs) a severe increase in recent times. Now the eye is popping to vans, however producers nonetheless face a dilemma over which know-how can finest do the job.

Some corporations like Volkswagen are embracing battery-electric vans as a result of they’re cheaper and the charging infrastructure is extra developed.

Others corresponding to Hyundai Motor, Daimler Truck and Volvo Vans are betting on hydrogen-powered gas cells as a result of they’ll assist longer ranges, heavier payloads and longer uptime through quicker refuelling.

For British start-up Tevva, the answer might be someplace within the center.

It has simply launched a brand new 7.5-tonne battery-electric truck whose regular vary may be doubled or tripled to round 500 km utilizing hydrogen as a backup power supply.

Which means truck drivers don’t have to cease to cost and might spend a full day driving.

“More often than not, we’re utilizing the batteries and the grid. However we’re eradicating any concern in regards to the vary by the hydrogen system,” Tevva CEO Asher Bennett advised Euronews Subsequent.

“So we actually need you largely to make use of grid electrical energy which is ample and low cost, however when you want to, the hydrogen is all the time there,” he mentioned.

The twin-energy system ensures that electrical vans aren’t relegated to quick inner-city routes, Tevva argues, however can tackle longer city and extra-urban routes.

Having a reserve of hydrogen as a backup additionally removes the chance of the vans ending up stranded as a result of their battery ran out quicker than anticipated.

“Our purpose is a truck that simply will get the job carried out. Repatriating a truck in the course of the workday isn’t enjoyable,” Bennett mentioned.

Tevva is launching the truck as a 7.5-tonne, to be adopted by 12-tonne and 19-tonne fashions.

The corporate is aiming to seize the medium-duty truck market, the place automobiles are sometimes going again to the identical depot each night, and the place they may plug into customary medium energy chargers to prime up extra cheaply than on the go.

For the hydrogen reserves, Tevva says the purpose can be to prime up a few times per week. It says cell refuelling stations may go to the depots of trucking corporations each week to make up for the present dearth of refuelling factors throughout Europe.

Is hydrogen the way forward for vans?

The European Union needs truck CO2 emissions reduce by a 3rd by 2030 from 2019 ranges, a goal that’s placing producers beneath stress to rapidly develop new fossil-free, heavy-duty automobiles.

EU transport commissioner Adina Vălean mentioned final December that the European Fee expects 60,000 hydrogen vans on European roads by 2030.

Hydrogen-powered vans do have an enchantment. As an alternative of being charged from an exterior supply, they produce their very own electrical energy on board – when the hydrogen saved within the automobile comes into contact with an electrochemical cell. The one byproduct emitted is water vapour.

Asian producers are at present main the marketplace for hydrogen automobiles.

South Korean conglomerate Hyundai’s Xcient vans have a spread of round 400 km and so they’re being trialled in a pilot in Switzerland – the place highway tax is waived for zero-carbon automobiles – to undertake deliveries for supermarkets and logistics corporations.

Volvo Vans, which already makes battery-electric vans, is the most recent producer to check automobiles utilizing gas cells powered by hydrogen, and it goals to deliver them to market in “the latter a part of this decade” though it gained’t give a extra particular date.

Final week, it unveiled new hydrogen vans with a spread corresponding to many diesel vans – as much as 1,000 km – and a refuelling time of beneath quarter-hour. The full weight may be round 65 tonnes or extra.

Volvo Vans says hydrogen gas cell know-how will finest match lorries that drive very lengthy distances, have very heavy hundreds or shouldn’t have dependable entry to electrical charging.

“For us, that is one further piece of the puzzle to have the ability to actually have a superb menu of various choices for our clients to allow them to make this transition,” Jessica Sandström, head of product administration and sustainability at Volvo Vans, advised Euronews Subsequent.

By 2030, the corporate is aiming for half of its European gross sales to be from electrical vans, powered by both batteries or hydrogen gas cells – however the actual share of every know-how stays very a lot an open query, she mentioned.

That’s as a result of huge challenges stay within the rollout of hydrogen automobiles.

“It’s nonetheless early days,” Sandström mentioned, citing the necessity to scale up hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and to significantly increase provides of inexperienced hydrogen – produced with out fossil fuels and as a substitute with renewable sources, corresponding to wind, water and solar energy.

And whereas many complain that Europe’s EV charging station community is patchy, it’s considerably extra developed in comparison with current hydrogen refuelling factors.

As of the tip of final yr, there have been simply 228 hydrogen stations throughout Europe, primarily in Germany, France, the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands, in keeping with information from H2stations.org.

“So it’ll take a while, however there’s lots of curiosity on this space,” Sandström mentioned.

“The essential factor now could be that we ensure that we talk what we wish, the place we’re heading and to ship the message to everybody that there can be lots of clients if you’re constructing charging stations, however there may also be clients for the hydrogen refuelling stations”.

[Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the total weight of the new hydrogen truck developed by Volvo Trucks can be 65 tonnes or more, not the total load carried.]

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