New era dawns for Mercedes-Benz with GenH2 Truck

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Daimler Trucks has presented its latest technology strategy for the electrification of its vehicles, ranging from urban distribution to international long-haul transport, to reaffirm its commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Protection Convention.

With a focus on the technology for hydrogen-based fuel-cell trucks for the long-haul transport segment, the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, which had its world premiere as a concept vehicle, marks the beginning of fuel-cell drive. With the GenH2 Truck, Daimler Trucks is demonstrating for the first time which specific technologies the manufacturer is driving forward at full speed so that heavy-duty fuel-cell trucks can perform flexible and demanding long-distance haulage operations with ranges of up to 1,000 kilometres and more on a single tank of hydrogen. 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. Thanks to the use of liquid instead of gaseous hydrogen with its higher energy density, the vehicle’s performance is planned to equal that of a comparable conventional diesel truck.

Daimler Trucks also presented for the first time a preview of a purely battery-powered long-haul truck, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul, which is designed to cover regular journeys on plannable routes in an energy-efficient manner. Daimler Trucks plans to have the eActros LongHaul ready for series production in 2024. Its range on one battery charge will be approximately 500 kilometres. Additionally, with the Mercedes-Benz eActros for distribution transport, which was already presented in 2018 and has been tested intensively since then by customers in everyday transport operations, Daimler Trucks will start series production of a purely battery-powered heavy-duty truck next year. The range of the series-produced eActros on one battery charge will significantly exceed that of the prototype’s approximately 200 kilometres.

Daimler Trucks is pursuing similar vehicle schedules for the North American and Japanese markets as it is for Europe. By the year 2022, Daimler Trucks’ portfolio in its main sales regions – Europe, the USA and Japan – is to include series-produced vehicles with battery-electric drive. The company also has the ambition to offer only new vehicles that are CO2-neutral in driving operation (“from tank to wheel”) in Europe, North America and Japan by 2039.

As a new worldwide modular platform architecture, the so-called ePowertrain will be the technological basis of all medium- and heavy-duty CO2-neutral, all-electric series-produced trucks from Daimler Trucks – whether powered purely by batteries or by hydrogen-based fuel cells. It will feature high levels of performance, efficiency and durability. With the ePowertrain, Daimler Trucks plans to achieve synergies and economies of scale for all relevant vehicles and markets.

The development engineers at Daimler Trucks have based the GenH2 Truck on the capabilities of the conventional Mercedes-Benz Actros long-haul truck with regard to tractive power, range, and performance. For example, the series-production version of the GenH2 Truck is to have a gross vehicle weight of 40 tonnes and a payload of 25 tonnes. Two special liquid-hydrogen tanks and a particularly powerful fuel-cell system will make this high payload and long range possible, and therefore form the core of the GenH2 Truck concept.

Daimler experts can draw on existing expertise for the development of liquid-hydrogen tanks, and they are also cooperating closely with a partner. With regard to fuel cells, the manufacturer benefits from its experts’ decades of experience, in terms of technology as well as production methods and processes. This represents an enormous advantage. In April this year, Daimler Truck AG concluded a preliminary, non-binding agreement with the Volvo Group to establish a new joint venture for the development to series maturity, production and commercialization of fuel-cell systems for use in heavy-duty commercial vehicles and other applications. Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems. The joint venture is to benefit from the expertise of Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group. To facilitate the joint venture with the Volvo Group, Daimler Truck AG has brought together all Group-wide fuel-cell activities in the newly founded subsidiary Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG.