Daimler and Volvo both believe hydrogen fuel cells have a place alongside pure electric power, and they’re teaming up to ensure that happens. They’re forming a joint venture to develop and sell fuel cell systems. The focus is on heavy-duty trucks (such as Mercedes’ GenH2 concept pictured above), but the two note their technology should be “ideally suited” to tasks like stationary power generators — imagine a cleaner alternative to the diesel generators that keep data centers up and running.
The two are creating a system with multiple power stages, most notably a twin system that delivers 300kW of non-stop power for long-haul trucks. They stress that they’ll remain competitors elsewhere, including the actual integration of fuel cells into their own vehicles.
You’ll be waiting a while before you see any trucks using these cells on roads, construction sites and quarries. Daimler and Volvo expect to start the first tests of trucks using the fuel cells in “about three years,” and won’t start full production until the second half of the decade. The joint venture itself isn’t expected to finalize until the first half of 2021.
The alliance is, in a sense, an acknowledgment of hydrogen’s place in an emissions-free future. EVs will increasingly dominate passenger car lineups from brands like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Fuel cells, meanwhile, appear increasingly better-suited to trucks and other uses where longevity and rapid turnaround times are more important.