The background here is in the widely different applications and tasks for trucks. Hydrogen-based drives can be the better solution especially for flexible and demanding applications in the important segment of heavy-duty transport and long-haul applications.
For electric trucks, the same as for conventional trucks applies. When choosing their vehicles, transport companies make rational purchasing decisions based on total cost of ownership. They are unwilling to compromise on their trucks’ suitability for everyday use, tonnage and range. Mercedes-Benz Trucks will continue to offer its customers optimal vehicle solutions for the full range of applications.
Further reasons to rely on a second zero-emission drive technology are the availability of a corresponding infrastructure and the availability of sufficient green energy. Mercedes-Benz Trucks is convinced that this energy requirement can only be covered quickly and cost-effectively with green electricity and green hydrogen. Hardly any country in the world will be able to supply itself with green energy alone at competitive prices in the future. Consequently, there will have to be global trade with CO2-neutral energy sources. Green hydrogen will play a central role here.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks assumes it will be traded at very attractive prices in the future. In addition, the truck manufacturer sees advantages in terms of the costs and technical feasibility of the hydrogen infrastructure, as well as longer ranges, flexibility and shorter refueling times for customers. Therefore, hydrogen trucks can be a viable option for our customers, especially in tough long-haul operations and notably in terms of total cost of ownership.
The first Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck fuel-cell prototypes have been undergoing rigorous testing programmes since last year – both on the in-house test track and on public roads. In the development of hydrogen-based drives, Mercedes-Benz Trucks prefers liquid hydrogen. In this aggregate state the energy carrier has a significantly higher energy density in relation to volume compared to gaseous hydrogen. As a result, more hydrogen can be carried, which significantly increases the range and enables comparable performance of the vehicle with that of a conventional diesel truck.
The development objective of the series-ready GenH2 Truck is a range of 1,000 kilometres and more. This makes the truck suitable for particularly flexible and demanding applications, especially in the important segment of heavy-duty long-haul transport. The start of series production for hydrogen-based trucks is planned for the second half of the decade.
The development engineers of Daimler Truck have based the GenH2 Truck on the characteristics of the conventional Mercedes-Benz Actros long-haul truck in terms of payload, range and performance. The aim is to offer the series-produced variant of the GenH2 Truck with a payload of 25 tonnes at a gross weight of 40 tonnes. Two special liquid hydrogen tanks and a particularly powerful fuel-cell system will enable this high payload and long range. They represent the heart of the GenH2 Truck. The two stainless-steel liquid-hydrogen tanks intended for the series version of the GenH2 Truck will have a particularly high storage capacity of 80 kg (40 kg each) for covering long distances. The stainless-steel tank system consists of two tubes, one within the other, that are connected to each other and vacuum-insulated.
In the series version of the GenH2 Truck, the fuel-cell system is to supply 2 x150 kilowatts and the battery is to provide an additional 400 kW temporarily. At 70 kWh, the storage capacity of the battery is relatively low, as it is not intended to meet energy needs, but mainly to be switched on to provide situational power support for the fuel-cell, for example during peak loads while accelerating or while driving uphill fully loaded.
At the same time, the relatively light battery allows a higher payload. It is to be recharged in series-production vehicles with braking energy and excess fuel-cell energy. A core element of the sophisticated operating strategy of the fuel-cell and battery system is a cooling and heating system that keeps all components at the ideal operating temperature, thus ensuring maximum durability. In a pre-series version, the two electric motors are designed for a total of 2 x 230 kW continuous power and 2 x 330 kW maximum power. Torque is 2 x 1577 Nm and 2 x 2071 Nm respectively.
At the same time, Daimler Truck is working together with Linde on the development of a new process for handling liquid hydrogen (‘subcooled’ liquid hydrogen, ‘sLH2 technology’). Among other things, this innovative approach enables even higher storage density and easier refuelling compared to LH2. The companies plan for the first refuelling of a prototype vehicle at a pilot station in Germany in 2023.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks and its partners are planning for a high level of transparency and openness around the relevant interfaces of the jointly developed sLH2 technology. The goal is to collaborate with other companies and associations as possible to develop their own refuelling and vehicle technologies that apply the new liquid-hydrogen standard and thereby establish a global mass market for the new process.
When it comes to infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations along important transport routes in Europe, Daimler Truck is planning to work together with the companies Shell, BP and TotalEnergies. Daimler Truck is also a shareholder in hydrogen filling station operator H2 MOBILITY Deutschland. In addition, Daimler Truck, IVECO, Linde, OMV, Shell, TotalEnergies and the Volvo Group have committed to work together to help create the conditions for the mass-market roll-out of hydrogen trucks in Europe as part of the H2Accelerate (H2A) interest group.
Together with the Volvo Group, Daimler Truck is committed to hydrogen-based fuel-cells. Both companies founded their joint venture cellcentric in 2021. Cellcentric’s goal is to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fuel-cell systems. To this end, the company plans to set up one of the largest series production facilities in Europe starting in 2025.