Daimler Truck says batteries and hydrogen are the future


FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – The world’s largest truck and bus maker envisions an ambitious zero-emissions future and said it’s not that far away – despite higher costs and the current lack of infrastructure Support.

Daimler AG’s truck division said it plans to shift most of its vehicle development resources to zero-emission vehicles by 2025 and predicts that battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trucks could be competitive with diesels. in terms of cost later this decade.

On May 20, Daimler Truck CEO Martin Daum highlighted the company’s big plans for hydrogen, although the technology is not as close to practical use as battery and vehicle costs remain high.

Daimler Truck, along with brands such as Freightliner and Mercedes-Benz, described its strategy for a large-scale transition from internal combustion vehicles after its split as an independent company later this year from Daimler AG. The restructuring would create separate companies for the truck business and the Mercedes-Benz luxury car division of Daimler.

CTO Andreas Gorbach said the company will spend the “vast majority” of vehicle development money on battery and hydrogen vehicles by 2025.

He predicted that the cost of these vehicles would drop to par with diesels after 2025 for battery-powered vehicles and after 2027 for hydrogen fuel cell trucks.

A key obstacle remains the fueling and recharging infrastructure, which is “in its infancy and is developing at different speeds around the world,” he said.

Nonetheless, the company’s roadmap predicts up to 60% of battery or hydrogen vehicle sales by 2030.

The company unveiled a plan to partner with energy company Shell to build a 1,200-kilometer hydrogen fueling corridor connecting Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Hamburg and Cologne in Germany by 2025. Shell would build 150 stations of hydrogen along it by 2030. Rotterdam and Hamburg are major trading ports.

Putting more local zero emission vehicles on the road is part of the European plan to drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and climate change.

The European Union aims to sharply reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to a level that can be absorbed by man-made or natural means, such as oceans, soils and forests.

As a state-owned company, Daimler Truck will come under scrutiny from investors and analysts as it strives to both improve the profits of its current offerings and invest in new technologies that should dominate the future.

While battery-powered cars and trucks are already on the road, the application of hydrogen fuel cells to power large numbers of vehicles remains more distant. In fuel cells, hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce electricity and water.

Yet the company relies heavily on hydrogen despite the challenges. Daum, CEO of Daimler Truck, predicted that power grids will not be able to support a fleet of fully battery-powered trucks, as zero-emission cars and trucks will grow in number.

“Both technologies will be needed and we intend to lead the industry in both cases,” he said.

The company plans to use hydrogen for long-haul trips while arguing that battery-powered trucks are more efficient for shorter-haul deliveries.

Daimler Truck is testing a long-haul hydrogen-powered truck, the GenH2, and has battery-powered trucks running in customer test programs, with mass production slated for 2022 for the Freightliners eCascadia and 2021 for the eActros for Mercedes-Benz.

The spin-off would involve the distribution of a majority of Daimler Truck shares to existing Daimler AG shareholders. The restructuring into two separate companies aims to give each more flexibility to react to changes in customer markets, as well as to follow divergent paths in technological development, with Mercedes-Benz luxury cars being more battery-driven. and the trucks activity working on the development of hydrogen fuel. cells through a joint venture with Volvo.

The companies say government incentives will be needed to promote the adoption of low-emission transportation, as costs are currently higher than for conventional vehicles.

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