Electromobility: The situation for heavy commercial vehicles
8. March 2022

Elektromobilität bei schweren Nutzfahrzeugen

The EU Commission’s regulations and plans to reduce CO2 emissions are forcing truck manufacturers to push the development of new forms of drive. Two camps have formed in Germany. While hydrogen-powered trucks from South Korea have already covered 1.5 million kilometers in Switzerland, manufacturers such as MAN are initially focusing on battery operation for heavy commercial vehicles as well. Delivery vehicles and smaller trucks have already been successfully running on batteries for years, especially if the length of the distances covered is not too long, for example in urban use.

But the limited range of even huge batteries for powering semitrailers or large trucks is viewed very critically by transport companies. Test drives have indeed shown the basic feasibility on distances of 500 kilometers and more. However, intermediate charging requires hours of waiting time, which makes operation uneconomical. The fuel cell proves to be more favorable here. A range of 600 kilometers, for example, is possible with one tank filling, and filling the tank takes only minutes. But what about the infrastructure?

Hydrogen filling stations are still in short supply. The first major facilities for green hydrogen production have been built or are in the planning stage, but it could be decades before a nationwide network is in place. A group of manufacturers and energy suppliers centered around Daimler Truck is putting all its eggs in this basket. Daimler is pushing the production of heavy-duty fuel cell trucks, but continues to focus on battery-powered trucks. The situation is exactly the opposite for a group around the manufacturer MAN. MAN is fully committed to battery-powered trucks and is postponing its full commitment to fuel cell development until after 2030.