Thursday, February 22, 2024

ZF and Freudenberg to develop fuel cell-based drive system for trucks

Freudenberg and ZF Friedrichshafen have signed a long-term strategic agreement for the development of a hybrid fuel cell-based drive system for trucks and coaches that is sustainable and emission-free.

Last year, Freudenberg and ZF Friedrichshafen AG had already started the “HyFleet” research project to develop a fuel cell drive for new long-distance bus platforms. Now both companies are intensifying their efforts and combining their skills for the long term as well. The goal is to develop a highly integrated hybrid fuel cell/battery drive system and the balance-of-plant (BoP) components that are critical for its functioning, specifically for heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

The initial focus is on truck and bus applications, but it can also be extended to rail and special vehicle systems – such as construction and agricultural vehicles – as well as to marine applications.

While Freudenberg will offer scalable e-power systems in kit form with various power outputs, ZF will offer complete electric driveline systems of up to 360 kW continuous power.

“Decarbonization is a major aim of the transport industry, and within this, fuel cell technology will be a game changer. Together with Freudenberg, we can offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution enabling manufacturers to quickly bring e-mobility solutions to market and supporting the industry’s transformation towards a more sustainable future,” said Wilhelm Rehm, ZF Board Member. “ZF’s cooperation with Freudenberg will develop highly integrated fuel cell e-drive solutions for the commercial vehicle industry. By reducing manufacturers’ development and project costs, our powerpack solutions will also help to lower the Total Cost of Ownership.”

“Our goal is to design the fuel cell battery drive system for long service life and real-world heavy-duty profiles. This ensures that our customers benefit not only from a sustainable, emission-free solution in heavy-duty transport, but it also pays off economically for them throughout the lifetime of the systems,” says Dr. Max Kley, CEO of Freudenberg e-Power Systems.

The pilot phase of the cooperation agreement is currently underway, with prototypes for bus and truck demonstration vehicles being developed. The first prototype vehicles are expected to hit the road by 2023.