Mercedes-Benz has called for the cost of running diesel-powered trucks to be increased, in order to boost the appeal of zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles.
Speaking in Berlin yesterday (26 September) after a Mercedes-Benz GenH2 prototype truck completed a 1,000km journey on one tank of liquid hydrogen, Andreas Gorbach (pictured), Daimler head of truck technology, said making zero-tailpipe-emission trucks economically viable is one of three ways to boost their appeal.
"This could be done by either increasing the cost of the fuel, or the tolls for diesel trucks," he said: "I think it is inevitable in order to make battery-electric and fuel cell trucks more attractive for our customers."
The second method, he said, would be to install an infrastructure of competitively-priced green energy, and the third would be to offer a readily available, and reliable product.
"We will definitely have the product," Gorbach confirmed. "We already have battery-electric trucks in series production, and we are making very good progress on the road to series production of hydrogen fuel cell trucks."
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He added that Daimler has a dual-track approach to alternatively-fuelled trucks. Battery-electric is its choice for distribution, as well as for long-distance haulage on planned routes with suitable mileages and charging options. However, it believes hydrogen fuel cell could be a better option for more flexible heavy-duty and long-distance haulage.
"To decarbonise transport, we need both battery-electric and hydrogen-powered drive technologies," he explained. "The sweet spot for fuel cell trucks lies in flexible and demanding long-haul transportation tasks. By cracking the 1,000km mark with one fill, we have now impressively demonstrated that hydrogen in trucks is anything but hot air."
Gorbach's comments came as a prototype Mercedes-Benz GenH2 hydrogen fuel cell truck completed a 1,046km drive from Mercedes-Benz Truck's customer centre in Woerth to the centre of Berlin on a single fill of hydrogen.
The fully-laden 40-tonner was equipped with a pair of 40kg liquid hydrogen tanks, mounted on either side of the chassis. They were sealed ahead of the drive, and independently inspected upon completion.
Berlin was chosen as the final destination, as it was here four years ago that chief executive Martin Daum first presented the GenH2 Truck Concept, and announced a significant investment in hydrogen technology.
Upon successful completion of the journey, Gorbach confirmed that the next step would be to put GenH2 trucks into customers' hands, with a view to putting it into series production during the second half of the decade.