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World's first hydrogen truck fleet on course for Switzerland

A project to integrate hydrogen technology into 50 trucks will complete this year, a milestone that introduces the world's first hydrogen truck fleet.

world's first hydrogen truck fleet

The Hyundai Xcient Fuel-Cell trucks – which will transport supermarket deliveries and other goods across Switzerland – are equipped with systems from Luxfer, a manufacturer of high-pressure composite and aluminium cylinders.

High time for heavy duty hydrogen trucks

The 19 tonne vehicles will have their hydrogen delivered by over 400 Luxfer G-Stor H2 hydrogen cylinders manufactured in Canada and assembled from Luxfer’s UK base in Nottingham.

In a statement, Mark Lawday, a director at Luxfer Gas Cylinders, said: “We’ve been working with Hyundai for around ten years on prototypes, as Hyundai is hugely committed to hydrogen power. Our role is to provide the knowledge of a complete fuel system to bring their ideas to life. There is significant interest in hydrogen and CNG across the world, and governments are now committing to cleaner transport technology as a route to meeting zero emission targets.”

The Hyundai H2 Xcients were manufactured in South Korea and a number are already in operation in Switzerland, where they are leased out by Hyundai’s joint venture with H2 Energy to Swiss retailers and logistic companies. The final systems are nearing completion and anticipated to be installed to trucks that will join the fleet later this year.

Each feature a 190kW fuel cell comprised of seven high-pressure tanks holding around 35kg of hydrogen that provide a long-distance range of about 400km before refuelling.

Hyundai shipped the first 10 units of XCIENT Fuel Cell to Switzerland in July, 2020 and is planning to put 1,600 hydrogen trucks on Swiss roads by 2025.

“It is not enough to produce a truck” said Mark Freymueller, chief executive of Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM). “You have to take care of the entire ecosystem, find like-minded partners and show this all makes sense for the customer.”

Luxfer anticipates that H2 will become increasingly attractive for heavy goods transportation, as the cost of producing clean fuel drops and greener alternatives to diesel are supported with funding.

Lawday said: “Switzerland is an ideal market for hydrogen-powered trucks, thanks in part because the country generates more than half of its energy from hydropower, so if this can be used to generate the hydrogen then it completely eliminates emissions.

“There are a number of benefits [that] hydrogen can deliver over other low emission alternatives, such as battery electric vehicles [BEV].  Hydrogen fuel cells can generate more power when pulling heavier loads uphill than an equivalent sized battery, and offer a greater range.

“Ultimately, hydrogen will be more economically viable than BEV for truck fleets specifically because of the faster fuelling times. Hauliers cannot afford to have their stock laid up several times per day charging, and the burden that simultaneous charging of a complete fleet puts on the local electricity grid becomes cost prohibitive, so that’s where hydrogen is the best solution.”

The Hydrogen Council estimates there will be 50,000 hydrogen-powered buses and 350,000 hydrogen powered trucks on the world’s roads by 2030.