The technology is comparatively expensive and so far hardly widespread, but Daimler is still relying on fuel cells in its heavy long-distance trucks in the long term. The company has unveiled the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, a fuel-cell truck with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers and more for flexible and demanding long-haul transport. Daimler Trucks plans to begin customer trials of the GenH2 Truck in 2023; series production is to start in the second half of the decade.
The series version of the GenH2 truck is designed to carry up to 25 tons of cargo with a total weight of 40 tons. The concept truck has two tanks for liquid hydrogen, each of which is designed to store 40 kilograms of hydrogen. The stainless-steel tank system consists of two tubes, one within the other, that are connected to each other, and vacuum-insulated. Hydrogen enters a block of two fuel cells with a capacity of 150 kW.
The Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck also has a relatively small 70 kWh battery that can temporarily provide an additional 400 kW of power during full-load climbs and other situations. It is to be recharged in series-production vehicles with braking energy and excess fuel-cell energy. A core element of the sophisticated operating strategy of the fuel-cell and battery system is a cooling and heating system that keeps all components at the ideal operating temperature, thus ensuring maximum durability. The current from the fuel cells is distributed to two motors, each of which has a continuous power of 230 kW and a maximum power of 330 kW.
In addition, Daimler is presenting the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul, a battery-electric truck with a range of around 500 kilometers that should go into series production in 2024.
In 2021, the battery-electric Mercedes-Benz eActros truck with a range of well over 200 kilometers should be ready for series production. The eActros is to come onto the market as a two- and three-axle vehicle. It is intended more for routes that can be planned, for example, in commuting or distribution traffic.
All brands share a worldwide modular platform, called ePowertrain, which will be the technological basis for all medium-heavy and heavy-duty trucks produced by Daimler Trucks – whether powered exclusively by batteries or hydrogen-based on fuel cells.
Besides Daimler, several other manufacturers, such as Toyota and Hyundai, are also developing hydrogen trucks. Thanks to the use of liquid instead of hydrogen gas, with a higher energy density, the performance of the vehicle is expected to be similar to that of a comparable, conventional diesel truck.