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Daimler, Volvo developing fuel-cell trucks via Cellcentric joint venture

More companies are looking toward hydrogen fuel cells for achieving zero emissions in long-haul trucking, and two industry heavyweights have joined forces in developing the technology.

Daimler Truck and Volvo Group (separate to the Volvo car company) last April announced plans to establish a joint venture to develop and produce on a large scale fuel-cell-electric powertrains for trucks and buses. On Thursday, the two companies finally launched the new joint-venture company which goes by the name Cellcentric.

The plan is to start producing fuel cells at scale by 2025, at a site in Europe to be decided in 2022. It’s just one of the measures Daimler Truck and Volvo Group are taking to meet Europe’s goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050.

To form the joint venture, Daimler Truck pledged its current fuel-cell technology while Volvo Group pledged 600 million euros (approximately $727 million), with each company receiving a 50% stake. Daimler already has a fuel-cell vehicle in limited production, in this case the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell.

Cellcentric twin-fuel-cell system for heavy-duty application

Cellcentric twin-fuel-cell system for heavy-duty application

Daimler Truck is one of the world’s biggest truck manufacturers and operates numerous brands including Mercedes-Benz, Fuso, Freightliner and Western Star. It has also rolled out concepts of fuel-cell-electric trucks. Volvo Group has a number of brands itself including Volvo and Mack.

Both Daimler Truck and Volvo Group have introduced battery-electric trucks, though the range on these models are limited to about 250 miles. For interstate travel, the companies see fuel-cell-electric trucks as a better option. They’re not alone in this thinking. Toyota and Kenworth have partnered on fuel-cell-electric trucks, and Hyundai has shown a concept of one.

As for the question of where the hydrogen will come from, Daimler Truck and Volvo Group are looking at using renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Another option is to source hydrogen from natural gas, utilizing carbon capture technology to create a carbon-neutral fuel.

If you’re thinking this is all starting to sound expensive, it is. Daimler Truck and Volvo Group, together with other truck manufacturers in Europe, want government support to establish around 300 hydrogen filling stations for trucks in the continent by 2025 and 1,000 by 2030. Daimler Truck and Volvo Group have also suggested incentives for CO2-neutral technologies, emissions trading schemes, and even a taxation system based on carbon and energy content.

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