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Category: Transportation and Logistics

Supply Chain News: The Battle to Power Zero Emissions Heavy Duty Trucks


Hydrogen Fuels Cells versus Electric Battery

April 18, 2023

There is no doubt the freight industry is rapidly moving to zero emission trucks – the question is what technology will be used to power the trucks.?” The UK, for example, plans for all new heavy goods vehicles there to be zero emission by 2040. In California, the government there has called for half of all heavy-duty truck sales in the state to be fully electric by 2035.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


Daimler Trucks has a development goal of a 1,000-kilometer range [a little over 621 miles] or more on a single charge of hydrogen

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And the battle has come down to two main competitors: hydrogen fuel cell technology and battery electric.

Battery electric has the clear advantage in local delivery trucks, where range is less of an issue than it is for over-the-road trucking.

Can battery electric support longer distances and perhaps hilly terrain? An article this week on quotes Jonathan Walker, head of cities and infrastructure policy at trade body Logistics UK as saying “hydrogen offers the closest comparator to diesel currently” for those longer hauls.

Brussels-based trade group Transport & Environment is cited by CNBC as saying that .“For two-thirds of road freight activity under 400 km, battery electric trucks are the most-competitive technology and are soon going to reach cost parity with conventional diesel trucks from a total cost of ownership perspective.”

“Which zero-emission technology out of battery electric and hydrogen will prevail in the long-haul segment is less certain,” T&E adds.

However, it notes that fuel cells trucks may offer increased flexibility in terms of refueling.

A major issue with hydrogen fuel cells: it takes lots of energy to produce the hydrogen, which today is supplied by fossil fuels. But it could be powered from renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. Either way, the cost of using hydrogen is an issue.

But both technologies will of course require a vast charging network, just as will consumer vehicles. But long haul trucks, which will require multiple charging stops for hydrogen refills or battery chargin, present their own problems in terms of availability.


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We’ll note that Daimler Trucks has a development goal of a 1,000-kilometer range [a little over 621 miles] or more on a single charge of hydrogen, with production of its new hydrogen truck planned in the second half of the 2020s.

Meanwhile, Tesla claims the higher-end model of its Semi will achieve a range of 500 miles, though how hills will impact that is not clear.

Either way, even for demanding use cases, the days of traditional diesel engines seem very limited indeed.

Any thoughts on the hydrogem vs battery? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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