Volvo Trucks announced today plans to add new fuel cell electric trucks powered by hydrogen to its product portfolio, in the second half of this decade. The company said that it has begun testing vehicles using the new technology.

The hydrogen-powered trucks would expand Volvo’s CO2-neutral portfolio, which currently includes battery electric trucks and trucks that run on renewable fuels, such as biogas.

Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks, said:

“We have been developing this technology for some years now, and it feels great to see the first trucks successfully running on the test track. The combination of battery electric and fuel cell electric will enable our customers to completely eliminate COexhaust emissions from their trucks, no matter transport assignments.”

A fuel cell generates its own electricity from the hydrogen onboard instead of being charged externally, making water vapor the only biproduct emitted. The fuel cells will be delivered by Cellentric, a joint venture between the Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG, which aims to build one of Europe’s largest series production facilities of fuel-cells, developed for heavy vehicles.

Hydrogen is viewed as one of the key building blocks of the transition to a cleaner energy future, particularly for sectors with difficult to abate emissions, in which renewable energy solutions such as wind or solar are less practical, such as transport and logistics.

Alm, said:

“Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks will be especially suitable for long distances and heavy, energy-demanding assignments. They could also be an option in countries where battery charging possibilities are limited.”

The new fuel cell electric trucks will have an operational range of up to 1000 km, a refueling time of less than 15 minutes, with a total weight of around 65 tons or higher.

According to Volvo Trucks, fuel cell technology is in still an early phase of development and despite the benefits of the new technology, there are some challenges ahead, including the large-scale supply of green hydrogen and the fact that refueling infrastructure for heavy vehicles is yet to be developed.

Alm added:

“We expect the supply of green hydrogen to increase significantly during the next couple of years, since many industries will depend on it to reduce CO2. However, we cannot wait to decarbonize transport, we are already running late. So, my clear message to all transport companies is to start the journey today with battery electric, biogas and the other options available.”

Customer pilots are expected to start in a few years, with commercialization planned for later this decade.