MAN Truck & Bus planning for small truck series with hydrogen combustion in 2025

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MAN Truck & Bus will be the first European truck producer to launch a small series with a hydrogen combustion engine. The initially planned small series of around 200 units is to be delivered to customers in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland and selected non-European countries as early as 2025.

The “MAN hTGX”, as the vehicle will be called, offers an alternative zero-emission drive variant for special applications, for example, for transporting heavy goods – such as construction work, tank transport or timber transport. The hTGX can also be an environmentally friendly alternative to battery-electric trucks for use in areas without sufficient charging infrastructure or for markets where sufficient hydrogen is already available. MAN will hand over the hTGX to customers for the first time in 2024 and scale it up from 2025. MAN has been the market leader for electric city buses in Europe since 2023.

“We are continuing to focus on battery-electric vehicles to decarbonize road freight transport. These currently have clear advantages over other drive concepts in terms of energy efficiency and operating and energy costs. However, trucks powered by hydrogen combustion engines are a useful addition for special applications and markets. We anticipate that we will be able to best serve the vast majority of our customers’ transport applications with battery-powered trucks. For special applications, hydrogen combustion or, in the future, fuel cell technology is a suitable supplement. The hydrogen combustion engine H45 is based on the proven D38 diesel engine and is produced at the engine and battery plant in Nuremberg. The use of familiar technology enables us to enter the market at an early stage and thus provides a decisive impetus for the ramp-up of the hydrogen infrastructure. With the hTGX, we have now added an attractive product to our zero-emission portfolio,” says Friedrich Baumann, Executive Board Member of MAN Truck & Bus and responsible for Sales & Customer Solution.

The hydrogen drive is particularly suitable for special transport tasks that require a special axle configuration or where there is no space for the battery on the frame due to the need for truck body work. The MAN hTGX offers high payloads and maximum ranges of up to 600 kilometres in its initially offered 6×2 and 6×4 axle variants. The H45 hydrogen combustion engine used has an output of 383 kW or 520 hp and a torque of 2500 Nm at 900-1300 rpm. The direct injection of hydrogen into the engine ensures particularly fast power delivery. With hydrogen compressed to 700 bar (CG H2) and a tank capacity of 56 kg, the vehicle can be refuelled in less than 15 minutes. With less than 1g CO2/tkm, the MAN hTGX will fulfil the criteria as a “zero-emission vehicle” under the new planned EU CO2 legislation.

Dr Frederik Zohm, Executive Board Member for Research & Development, adds: “The new CO2 regulations at EU level will classify trucks with hydrogen combustion engines as zero-emission vehicles. This means that such vehicles fully contribute to our CO2 fleet targets, which also opens the door for this small series that complements battery electric vehicles. At the same time, depending on the country, our customers benefit from corresponding toll reductions, for example. At MAN’s Nuremberg site, we have the most innovative engine technology and decades of experience in the use of hydrogen as a fuel. We are utilising this and presenting a real MAN with the MAN hTGX. The new hydrogen combustion truck is based on the tried-and-tested TG vehicle series and impresses with the highest quality and uncomplicated maintenance. We will continue to research fuel cell technology based on battery technology and hydrogen. H2 fuel technology is also in preparation at MAN. However, it will be several years before the technology is really ready for the market and competitive.”

As with e-mobility, MAN not only emphasises the development and production of innovative and reliable vehicles in line with its “Simplifying Business” claim, but also supports customers with comprehensive service and consulting offers when switching from diesel to zero-emission vehicles.

MAN & Hydrogen – a long-standing history

MAN has a long standing history with hydrogen drives, the company has been researching them for decades. MAN Truck & Bus presented the first hydrogen-powered bus at the Hanover Fair in 1996: the SL 202 city bus was powered by a natural gas engine that had been modified for hydrogen operation. Following the Hanover Fair, the vehicle completed a three-quarter year test phase in Erlangen, during which it travelled 13,000 kilometres and carried 60,000 passengers. The bus finally arrived in Munich in 1997 and was successfully deployed in regular service there. This was followed in 1998 by three articulated buses for Munich Airport, which were used until 2008, and a further 14 hydrogen-powered buses between 2006 and 2009.

In addition to its earlier and more recent experience with commercial vehicles, MAN is now also developing and testing the hydrogen engine for the MAN Engines division in a wide range of applications on and off the road as well as on water. For example, it is well suited for special vehicles – such as snow cats – for trains on non-electrifiable routes and for excavators and cranes. Use in combined heat and power plants also makes sense, especially if the heat generated can be utilised in addition to the electricity.