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Can fuel cell conversions help clean up diesel long-haul trucking?

In addition to building new zero-emission trucks, what if old diesel trucks were converted to hydrogen fuel cell power? Two such initiatives were announced earlier this week.

Daimler Truck North America and diesel engine maker Cummins will update older Freightliner Cascadia pickup trucks built by Daimler with fuel cell powertrains supplied by Cummins, the two companies announced Wednesday. .

The companies expect to have the first trucks by 2024. After that, Daimler is also expected to ramp up production. battery-electric eCascadiaannounced in production-ready form on the same day as the fuel cell announcement.

Freightliner Cascadia pickup truck

Freightliner Cascadia pickup truck

Startup Hyzon Motors is touting its own fuel cell conversion program as a way to get cleaner trucks on the road faster. The company said in a press release that, due to supply chain issues, the current wait time for a new truck chassis is up to 16 months. Toggle existing frames provides a shortcut.

Hyzon plans to offer 110 kW and 200 kW fuel cell stacks. It says examples of the latter will begin testing in late 2022, with a commercial launch after that. The stacks will be manufactured at Hyzon’s plant in Illinois.

Hyzon Motors' hydrogen fuel cell stack

Hyzon Motors’ hydrogen fuel cell stack

Other companies have expressed interest in building new fuel cell trucks. In 2021, General Motors and Navistar announced plans to build 2,000 half-cycle fuel cell “next time.” Toyota and Kenworth have been performing Prototype “Project Portal” in pleating service at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach for a few years at this time.

Perhaps the most ambitious is the California Fuel Cell Partnership trade group, which plans to bring 70,000 fuel cell trucks on the road by 2035, supported by 200 newly built hydrogen stations.

But while commercial vans are considered a more viable option for fuel cells than passenger cars at this point, it’s possible that window of opportunity is closing. Recent analyzes claim that battery-powered vehicles will likely have enough range, except for long-distance applications, to make fuel-cell trucks a small market.

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