Scania 25 P, ©Dan Boman 2020

Scania began a trial involving hydrogen-powered trucks over a year ago. They replaced the combustion engine in the driveline with a unit comprising hydrogen-powered fuel cells in four of these trucks from the Norwegian wholesaler Asko.

Hydrogen-powered trucks will have a limited role in the future.

It would appear that the trial failed to sufficiently impress them. The Swedish truck manufacturer wrote in a press release that it believes hydrogen-powered trucks will have a limited role in the future. The reason is that three times more renewable electricity is needed to power a hydrogen truck than a truck with electric batteries. A lot of energy is also lost in production, distribution and conversion to electricity, according to Scania..

Fully electric truck

Hydrogen also has higher costs in terms of repairs and maintenance. This is because the systems are more complex and also include an extensive air and cooling system. As hydrogen is a volatile gas, it also requires more maintenance to ensure safety.

Scania does acknowledge that hydrogen is a promising energy carrier, that it is a good way to store energy during longer cycles and that it will play an important role in shaping a sustainable society. But Scania will not be among those working on its future in transport.

elektrische vrachtwagens
Charging a Scania truck, ©Dan Boman 2020

Scania may be backing away from hydrogen, but the world’s sixth-largest truck maker is putting its money on electric vehicles. Scania has had a fully electric truck on the market in two models for the past six months. Including one with nine batteries that has a total capacity of 300 kWh at its disposal. The range is 250 kilometres. Work is underway to increase the performance of these models.

Half of trucks will be electric by 2030

Within a few years, Scania plans to introduce electric trucks that can carry a total weight of 40 metric tons for 4 1/2 hours and can be quickly recharged during the drivers’ mandatory 45-minute rest break. As the press release states, Scania expects 10 per cent of its sales in Europe to come from “electrified” vehicles by 2025. Plus 50 per cent of sales should be electric vehicles within nine years.

Scania is a division of the Volkswagen group. Herbert Diess, the group’s president, announced over a year ago that the German automobile manufacturer would stop developing pure fuel cell vehicles which run on hydrogen. Instead, they plan to focus entirely on vehicles with electric batteries.

Read about how other truck manufacturers are seeing opportunities in the hydrogen truck here.

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About the author

Author profile picture Ewout Kieckens is a Dutch journalist in Rome who writes about Italian lifestyle and culture. He has written books on diverse subjects such as the Vatican and Italian design. He is very interested in innovations, especially Italian contribution to progress.