By: Editorial Team
Reading time: 2 Minutes
Protecting the environment with H₂ trucks
You brought the first hydrogen-powered trucks out on the road in Switzerland in October 2020. How did that happen? Hyundai was looking for a sales partner for this technology. We tendered our offer and were awarded the contract. Meanwhile, all 46 H₂ trucks from the first shipment are now in operation. Fuel cells basically convert the gas directly into electricity, which drives a 350 kW/476 hp electric motor. What preconditions did you have to meet? For vehicle maintenance, we had to establish high-voltage and gas workshop facilities, train the employees, and create a safety infrastructure for handling the gas. That includes special sensors that measure the hydrogen content in the air and automatically trigger corrective measures in the event of a release. When repairing the hydrogen system of the trucks, however, we take precautions to prevent the formation of hazardous gas concentrations. The associated elements are emptied, flushed out with nitrogen, and thereby inertized. What benefits do the H₂ trucks provide? The only thing that comes out of the tailpipe is water vapor. So their operation is extremely eco-friendly and their electric drive exempts them from the Swiss heavy goods vehicle fee. For a comparable diesel-powered truck, that fee amounts to about 60,000 Swiss francs or 55,000 euros (at 80,000 kilometers per year and a total laden weight of 36 metric tons). What about range? A full tank of 32 kilograms of hydrogen will carry you about 400 kilometers – more than enough for delivery services within Switzerland. Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG offers the vehicles under a pay-per-use model. That boosts our customers’ liquidity and reduces their technology risk.
Of all the suppliers, Messer has demonstrated the greatest flexibility.
Jörg Merz, Auto AG Truck, Rothenburg, Switzerland
And you carry the risk for the day-to-day viability of the technology. What is your experience so far? Absolutely outstanding. There’s hardly anything to do on the fuel cell drive, most of the repair work concerns conventional components such as on-board voltage systems, superstructures and tail lifts.
What gases do you get from Messer? We buy nitrogen, which, as I said earlier, we need for flushing and inertizing. And Messer supplies us with the hydrogen for the start filling... ... which means? Before delivery, we only fill a small quantity of gas for the necessary minimum pressure in the tank. That’s what we then use to drive to the neighboring hydrogen filling stations to fill the tank. Why do you work with Messer? Repair work can only be planned to a limited degree, and that applies accordingly to our demand for gases. Of all the suppliers, Messer has demonstrated the greatest flexibility. We get whatever we need very rapidly and the Messer team is always very glad to help.
About Auto AG Truck
As a subsidiary of Auto AG Group, Auto AG Truck specializes in commercial vehicle sales and service. With eight locations in Switzerland, it offers a broad selection of light and heavy commercial vehicles, including electric vans, and is the first automotive dealership in the country to also offer hydrogen-powered trucks.