Heavy truck maker Navistar has named General Motors as its partner to provide hydrogen fuel cells to power the company’s signature tractor-trailer rigs.
Although rapidly improving technology has made lithium-ion batteries the energy source of choice for electric passenger vehicles and around-town commercial vehicles, long-haul trucks are better suited to hydrogen fuel cells.
The companies are working with OneH2 for hydrogen fueling equipment to provide trucking companies a turn-key hydrogen fuel cell fleet solution. The pilot customer is J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., whose yellow logo is familiar to anyone who spends many miles on Interstate highways.
"Hydrogen fuel cells offer great promise for heavy-duty trucks in applications requiring a higher density of energy, fast refueling, and additional range," said Persio Lisboa, Navistar president and CEO. "We are excited to provide customers with added flexibility through a new hydrogen truck ecosystem that combines our vehicles with the hydrogen fuel cell technology of General Motors and the modular, mobile and scalable hydrogen production and fueling capabilities of OneH2."
Navistar’s International RH series trucks will debut the fuel cell powertrain in model year 2024, with testing to be completed by the end of 2022, according to Navistar. The aim is for the vehicle to have a range of more than 500 miles and for re-fills to take less than 15 minutes.
Each truck will pack a pair of GM’s Hydrotec fuel cell power cubes. Each of those contains more than 300 hydrogen fuel cells and its own independent thermal and power management systems. Compact 48” x 31” x 22” dimensions make the power cubes easy to package into many different applications.
"GM's vision of a world with zero emissions isn't limited to passenger vehicles. We believe in EVs for everyone," said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. "We're thrilled to work with like-minded companies like Navistar and OneH2 to offer a complete solution for progressive carriers that want to eliminate tailpipe emissions with a power solution that can compete with diesel."
OneH2 will provide the hydrogen fueling infrastructure to support the trucks. That will include hydrogen production, storage, delivery, and safety. Navistar is taking a minority stake in OneH2 as part of the deal. The partners anticipate supporting 2,000 International RH Series fuel cell electric vehicles “in the near term,” Navistar said.