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Daimler Begins Testing Hydrogen-Powered Truck Prototype

Hydrogen-powered fuel-cells are the focus of the manufacturer’s future plans for electrification, with hopes the technology will be able to achieve ranges of up to 1000 kilometres or more without needing to stop for refuelling.

The Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck was first unveiled in 2020. Now, the truck is being put through its paces to see how it performs in various conditions.

The extensive series of tests is designed to be very demanding on the vehicle and its components. Testing focusses on continuous operation, different weather and road conditions, and various driving manoeuvres and more.

Daimler Trucks’ development plan would see the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck being tested on public roads before the end of 2021, with customer trials scheduled to begin in 2023. It is hoped that these trucks will then go into production and be handed over to customers from 2027.

“We are consistently pursuing our technology strategy for the electrification of our trucks. We want to offer our customers the best locally CO2-neutral trucks – powered by either batteries or hydrogen-based fuel-cells, depending on the use case. We’re right on schedule and I’m delighted that the rigorous tests of the GenH2 Truck have started successfully,” chairman of the board of management of Daimler Truck AG Martin Daum said in a statement.

The idea is that the GenH2 Truck and its components would meet the same durability requirements as a comparable conventional Mercedes-Benz Actros.

This means 1.2 million kilometres on the road over a period of ten years and a total of 25,000 hours of operation.

According to Daimler Trucks, that’s why the GenH2 Truck will need to complete such demanding tests – just as every new Actros generation has in the past.

During the first few weeks of testing, the vehicle has covered hundreds of kilometres under continuous load on a road-to-rig test stand and gone through extreme situations based on real-life operating conditions. Examples include emergency braking and kerbstone drives along the test track.

The GenH2 Truck features completely new components, which developers have been doubling down on during the tests.

These components include the fuel-cell system, the all-electric powertrain, and all of the associated systems such as the special cooling unit. In addition, the new components’ specific weight and position in the vehicle affect the truck’s handling properties. As a result, the vibrations caused by bumpy roads, for example, and especially by extreme situations, subject the fuel-cell truck to different forces than those in conventional vehicles.

In order to obtain extensive information about this at an early stage, the current prototype is loaded during the tests with a payload of up to 25 tons for a gross vehicle weight of about 40 tons, which is identical with the specifications planned for the series-produced variant of the GenH2 Truck.