UK firm unveils 40-tonne long range hydrogen-electric truck

Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS) is celebrating the release of its first 40-tonne heavy vehicle truck, designed and built in the UK to run on hydrogen-electric technology

Promising 600km per tank and a 20-minute refuelling cycle a new truck from Glasgow-based company Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS) has entered the zero emissions race.

HVS CEO Jawad Hursheed says the truck, unveiled at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham, showcases the company’s ground-breaking hydrogen-electric commercial vehicle design and advanced powertrain technology.

“Our zero-emission trucks are a key part of decarbonising the logistics sector,” Hursheed says. “Hydrogen is the perfect fuel for the haulage industry, offering long ranges and quick refuelling thanks to stations being easily integrated into existing key transport networks.

“What’s more, we will supply our customers with the most advanced HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) in the sector delivering a step change in driving experience and efficiency.”

The new truck is to be fuelled by green hydrogen ­– hydrogen produced directly by renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind or solar – tied to an electric engine and battery system.

HVS, which was founded in 2017 in Glasgow, has been determined to build the first indigenous UK-designed HGV for the local market. The company has built a strong staff list of industry specialists, with vast experience in the automotive, energy, hydrogen technology, power electronics, sustainability and environmental management fields.

With funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Innovate UK, Scottish Enterprise and Energy Technology Partnership, HVS is planning its path to market via a strategic investment partner, service station and grocery corporation, EG Group, which will be able to offer hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, a fleet customer base and the potential for global scalability. 

HVS’ tractor units will be built on an all-new chassis, designed in-house around a hydrogen powertrain, which consists of pressurised hydrogen cylinders, fuel cells, an energy storage system and electrified rear axle.

The demonstrator’s look and feel is the work of HVS’s head of design Pete Clarke and features innovation in packaging, performance, efficiency, weight, range, consumption, maintenance, and lifecycle.

The interior of the new HVS truck

“The technology demonstrator’s unique design allows significantly improved aerodynamics compared with current Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) trucks,” HVS says. 

The promotion material for the truck says the improved aerodynamics produce “enhanced fuel efficiency on long-haul runs and improved spatial ergonomics within the cab, including better access and more room at the controls, not to mention sector-leading aesthetics”.

HVS’ vehicle powertrain employs a fuel cell system and energy storage system to deploy electricity to an electric motor to transmit power to the wheels.

It also uses a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) to recapture energy under braking and while the truck is slowing down.

The integrated powertrain is controlled with HVS’ advanced control system ‘SEMAS,’ which monitors interactions between drivers and control systems, delivering class-leading fuel efficiency and durability.

The fuel cell permits longer range, higher load-carrying capacity, and faster refuelling than would be possible using battery-electric technology alone: typical refuelling time is comparable to diesel, around 20 minutes to replenish the high-pressure hydrogen tanks.

The only emission from the vehicle is water vapour, meaning there are no harmful greenhouse gas emissions of any kind. 

The company says that depending on the type of journey, the route travelled, road conditions and driving style their new truck has the capacity to travel for 600km on one tank.

A different view of the HVS hydrogen-electric tractor

The plan is to have hydrogen fuelling stations in existing commercial vehicle sections of petrol stations, using dispensers very similar to conventional petrol and diesel ones.

With the expansion of production HVS is predicting it will need a workforce of about 600 people as it sets up for production. It is also planning a left-hand drive version of the truck.

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