Volvo Trucks' hydrogen-powered electric trucks have passed a significant milestone after being put to test on public roads for the first time.

The road tests are being conducted in sub-zero temperatures on public roads above the Arctic Circle in the north of Sweden.

The trucks, which only emit water vapour, use hydrogen to produce their own electricity onboard – making them suitable for longer transport assignments. They are kitted out with two fuel cells with a capacity to generate 300 kW of electric power.

Volvo Trucks is aiming to launch the trucks onto the market in the second half of this decade. Tests with hauliers will start a few years before the commercial launch.

Helena Alsiö, Volvo Trucks vice president of powertrain product management, said: "Trucks are operating seven days a week and in all types of weather. The harsh conditions on public roads in northern Sweden, with ice, wind and lots of snow, make an ideal testing environment.

"I am pleased to say that the tests are going well, confirming those we carried out before, both digitally and on our confined test track close to Gothenburg.”

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Volvo Trucks said the trucks will be especially suitable for longer distances and where using only batteries isn’t an option, such as in rural areas with no charging infrastructure.

To speed up the development, Volvo Group has joined forces with Daimler to develop and produce fuel cell systems that are tailor-made for heavy-duty vehicles.

Volvo Trucks currently offers six different battery electric models as well as trucks that run on renewable fuels, such as biogas.

Roger Alm, Volvo Trucks president, said: “We need to act now in order to stop global warming. Regardless of the transport assignments or where in the world our customers are operating, waiting is not an option.

"In a few years, our customers will be able to completely eliminate CO2 exhaust emissions from their trucks.