Hydrogen truck on the road

An experimental hydrogen powered truck is set to work as a postal delivery vehicle for the next year. In France, Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste) are introducing, on an experimental basis, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. This 4.5-tonne Renault Maxity Electric model now has a range of 200 km and a field test, scheduled to last a year, will enable Renault to explore all potential avenues of hydrogen technology under actual operating conditions.


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“This vehicle generates no noise impacts and only releases water vapour; 200 km of autonomy make it the ideal choice for a daily schedule of urban and suburban routes”, said Karine Forien, Director of Energy Efficiency Strategy with Renault Trucks. “Our purpose behind this project is to support European metropolitan areas in their goal of limiting air and noise pollution emissions, through testing innovative vehicles that produce zero emissions and that in the near term should become economically viable for our customers.”


La Poste, currently has the world’s largest fleet of electric vehicles, it has also been testing vehicles running on hydrogen.


“Hydrogen stands out today as an efficient solution for extending the possibilities of the electric vehicle product line and its autonomy. More broadly, the development of a hydrogen-based energy storage system is a linchpin to our energy transition”, said Frédéric Delaval, Technical Director of the Mail and Package Delivery Services Office at La Poste.


The Maxity Electric vehicle’s normal range of 100 km has been bumped up another 100 km thanks to energy supplied by the fuel cell.


When the vehicle is running, the electric motor is fed by two complementary energy sources; the fuel cell is capable of delivering a maximum power of 20 kW and, once that threshold has been reached, the batteries kick in to supply whatever power is still required. When idle, the fuel cell is available to recharge the battery as needed.


The formation of water from oxygen in the air and hydrogen stored in the tanks triggers the production of electricity and heat to generate electricity to power the truck or charge batteries.


The truck has a maximum speed of 90 km/h, uses an AMT and puts out 270 Nm of torque. The system uses two 75 litre hydrogen tanks, adding 300 kg to tare weight. French mass rules allow an extra tonne GVM for innovative vehicles.