Thursday 26 November 2020

MAN blows hot with hydrogen

Having recently thrown its weight behind battery-electric power for distribution trucks, Traton subsidiary MAN is to explore the use of hydrogen in long-haul transport. Prototype vehicles are to be built as early as next year, with MAN testing both fuel cells and a combustion engine.

Fuel cells offer a range of approximately 800 km – enough for long-distance truck transport with a high payload – while the hydrogen combustion engine is said to offer a more readily available and robust solution thanks to its well-known basic technology, and could thus serve as a bridging technology.

Practical trials in cooperation with selected customers are planned for 2023/24. The aim is to test the entire hydrogen ecosystem in transport logistics. MAN intends to test hydrogen in long-distance road freight transport, in a consortium with Bavarian infrastructure operators and freight forwarding partners.

Initial talks on this are already underway with the Bavarian state government. Cooperation with universities is also planned.

“We take our responsibility towards the environment and society very seriously, so MAN Truck & Bus is using a lot of energy for the development of alternative drive systems,” said Dr Frederik Zohm, executive board member for research and development at MAN Truck & Bus.

“Hydrogen can be an interesting solution here, but then infrastructure needs to be significantly expanded. We are happy to make our contribution by developing the right vehicles.”

Development is to be centred on MAN’s historic diesel engine plant in Nuremberg, which is to become the site of a ‘hydrogen campus’.

Dr Zohm added: “As a commercial vehicle manufacturer, we are facing our industry’s biggest transformation since the invention of the diesel engine.

“Back then, MAN gave Rudolf Diesel the money and equipment he needed to develop his engine. These days, it is all about successfully industrializing alternative drive systems like battery-electric drives, fuel cells, or hydrogen combustion engines. We are once again getting involved in the basic development of new drive forms.”

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