Volvo and Daimler Lose Faith in BEV for Long-Haul Trucks

Volvo continues its refocusing on hydrogen fuel cell technology announcing a joint venture with Daimler Trucks to develop long-haul heavy-duty cargo vehicles.

In creating the new entity called cellcentric, the automakers are admitting BEV trucks that both have been exploring will never be adequate for the traditional role of long-distance trucks servicing large land mass nations. Both automakers agreed that battery power will be focused only on lower cargo weights and for shorter distances.

This is the latest push into future hydrogen powertrain development by Volvo hitherto seen as a major champion of BEV technology. Earlier in April, it announced a tie-up with steel manufacturer SSAB in a bid to create fossil-free hydrogen powered vehicles. Now the new entity hopes to build one of Europe’s largest planned series production of fuel-cell systems, with operations planned to commence in 2025. To accelerate the rollout of these fuel-cells, the two shareholders have called for a harmonized European Union hydrogen policy framework to support the technology.

During its launch, the two automakers said cellcentric will develop, produce and commercialize fuel-cell systems for both long-haul trucking and then other future applications. The joint venture will draw on decades of expertise and development work from both Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group.

The joint venture’s first goal is to start with customer tests of fuel-cell trucks in about three years and to be in series production of fuel-cell trucks during the second half of this decade.

Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo Group, added: “We are convinced that hydrogen fuel-cell technology plays an essential role in helping us reach that milestone. But we know there is so much more to achieve than just the electrification of machines and vehicles. There needs to be greater cooperation between public and private stakeholders to develop the necessary technology and infrastructure, which is why we are calling for united action from policymakers and governments around the world in helping us make hydrogen fuel-cell technology a success.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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