GM said Wednesday that it would be partnering with truckmaker Navistar to make hydrogen fuel-cell-powered semi-trucks and that they would start testing them next with the trucking company J.B. Hunt. This is the kind of quiet evolution that we’ll be seeing more and more.
That’s because things like this are part of the reason some people are very, very excited about hydrogen fuel cells, as they can power vehicles that are impractical to switch to battery-electric technology. Think bigger and heavier vehicles, like semis, airplanes, and boats; not necessarily cars. The bigger vehicles would benefit from the speed of hydrogen refueling since in commercial use there’s also not always tons of downtime.
Which is what GM is thinking as well:
Here’s a bit more from the Associated Press:
Navistar says its trucks will be able to go more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) on a single charge and can be refueled in less than 15 minutes.
None of the companies would give financial details of the collaboration. GM, which has been researching hydrogen fuel cells for 50 years, has stated in the past it wants to develop markets to sell its new technologies to other companies. Navistar said it would take a minority stake in Longview, North Carolina, based OneH2.
The companies said the cost of running Navistar’s International RH fuel cell electric vehicles is expected to be comparable to diesel in certain markets.
They are expected to be commercially available sometime in 2024 to run routes with OneH2 refueling stations along the way.
The main knock against hydrogen fuel cell is that hydrogen is expensive, takes a lot of energy to harvest, is hard to transport and the infrastructure for it simply doesn’t exist in the United States outside of a small pocket of California. And all of those criticisms are valid, but they also all sound like problems that can be solved as the technology scales. I don’t really know if hydrogen fuel cell will be nothing in 50 years or everything, but that’s the thrilling part of living through this vast transformation.