VDL Special Vehicles has produced the first of five hydrogen fuel cell trucks for Toyota Motor Europe, which will be used in an extensive five-year test by Toyota’s European logistics providers. The hydrogen truck uses Toyota’s fuel cell technology.
Earlier this year, in May, the Dutch VDL group and Toyota Motor Europe announced a partnership to study the viability of hydrogen fuel cells in heavy road transport. Now, the first fruit of this collaboration has been revealed in the shape of a hydrogen fuel cell truck.
Fuel cell trucks for Toyota’s European logistics
VDL Special Vehicles, specializing in battery electric and hydrogen conversions for various vehicle types, has converted a DAF CF heavy truck to hydrogen power thanks to Toyota’s fuel cell technology. No technical details have been released, but the project aims to achieve a more extended range and quicker refueling than with a BEV truck.
This first demo truck will be used for road testing to prepare for the next phase of the project, where four more trucks will be produced for Toyota’s European logistic providers, VOS Transport Group, CEVA, Groupe CAT, and Yusen. They will use these trucks between Antwerp, Lille, Cologne, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam daily. In theory, these trucks will be on the road for five years.
Where’s the demand?
The project’s primary goal is to provide knowledge on the use of hydrogen in heavy road transport and to stimulate the development of hydrogen infrastructure across Europe. Toyota also wants to decarbonize its logistics to become fully carbon-neutral by 2040.
However, other hydrogen truck projects have not yet been very successful. Earlier this year, Dutch transport companies could request a subsidy to purchase zero-emission trucks, including hydrogen and battery-electric drivetrains. Around 400 subsidies for BEV trucks were requested, compared to zero for the FCEV camp.
The main problem seems to be the cost and lack of infrastructure, with hydrogen being a much more energy-intensive solution to produce and more difficult to store. At the same time, electricity is readily available to charge up batteries. The skinny profit margins of the transport sector are, therefore, quick to decide on the cheaper option if they have to decarbonize.