Volvo fuel-cell semi: 600 miles, 15-minute refueling with green hydrogen still not widely available

Volvo Trucks (not to be confused with Volvo Cars) already sells battery-electric commercial trucks, but is now experimenting with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

The company on Monday unveiled its first fuel-cell trucks, with a claimed 600-mile range, 15-minute refueling time, and 65-ton hauling capacity. The truck uses two onboard fuel cells with a 300-kw combined capacity supplied by Cellcentric, a joint venture between Volvo Group and Daimler AG, according to a Volvo press release.

Volvo FH hydrogen fuel-cell semi truck

Volvo FH hydrogen fuel-cell semi truck

Volvo is taking a pragmatic approach to fuel cells, which it views was merely one of three options to reduce emissions alongside batteries and renewable fuels such as biogas. Instead of attempting a breakneck development pace, Volvo said customer pilots will start in a few years, with commercialization later in the decade.

The slow pace is in part due to the lack of refueling infrastructure and green hydrogen, according to Volvo. Only green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable energy, provides an emissions benefit. Other production methods can still be quite carbon-intensive.

The momentum in fuel-cell road vehicles has largely shifted from passenger cars to commercial trucks, with several manufacturer development programs underway.

Volvo FH hydrogen fuel-cell semi truck

Volvo FH hydrogen fuel-cell semi truck

Daimler is working with Cummins to convert some of its older trucks to fuel-cell power, and has plans for a far-off hydrogen fuel-cell semi for later in the decade. Much sooner, General Motors is planning to help supply Navistar with fuel cells for a long-haul truck project.

Toyota has been testing prototype fuel-cell semis at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for several years, and plans to manufacture fuel cells in the United States for use in semis.

California is emerging as the center for U.S. fuel-cell truck deployment. Hyundai is planning to test its Xcient Fuel Cell trucks in the state, and a trade group wants to put 70,000 fuel-cell trucks on California roads by 2035.

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