Sweden’s Volvo Group said Monday it has sold 1,000 battery electric trucks to Switzerland’s Holcim, while also announcing progress on its way to commercialization of hydrogen-powered fuel cell versions.
Volvo’s fuel-cell trucks have been tested on public roads. The next step is operational testing with the hauler. Sales should begin before the end of the decade. Big issues to overcome include the lack of supply and refueling infrastructure of green hydrogen.
The deal with Holcim, which makes and sells construction materials such as cement and ready-mix concrete, calls for delivery of the trucks between now and 2030. Holcim operates in 60 countries and has approximately 60,000 employees.
Volvo declined to reveal financial details.
“This is the largest ever commercial order for Volvo Electric trucks and the first 130 vehicles will be delivered in 2023 and 2024,” the company said in a statement.
The Swedish truck and heavy equipment maker leads peers with 2,700 medium and heavy fully electric truck orders last year, according to the Financial Times Lex column, having delivered more electric trucks than Daimler Trucks or Volkswagen spinoff Triton. Volvo also sells trucks under the Mack, Renault and UD brands.
Volvo recently presented a progress report on its hydrogen fuel-cell plans.
“Now, the vehicles have passed an important milestone – namely, being test-driven on public roads. Last year Volvo Trucks demonstrated its fuel-cell electric trucks for the first time. Volvo said, These zero exhaust emissions trucks use hydrogen to produce their own electricity, can travel long distances, making them suitable for long haulage work.
Volvo Says Fuel-Cell Electric Trucks Will Be Commercially Available in 2019Ra Half of this decade and testing with customers will begin “a few” years before commercial launch.
In theory, hydrogen-powered trucks have an advantage over battery-electric ones. The batteries needed to power the trucks have to be massive and can take several hours to charge. Hydrogen fuel cells can be charged in minutes and are much smaller and lighter than electric batteries. Both require carbon-neutral governance to be considered truly green.
Environmental NGOs argue that hydrogen alternatives only make sense if the production process can be cleaned up, and there is currently no evidence of this.
Jessica Sandstrom, Senior Vice President Global Product Management, Volvo Trucks, was asked about the possibilities of producing a steady supply of green hydrogen.
“We expect the supply of green hydrogen to increase over the next few years, as many industries will depend on it to reduce CO2. This is likely to start in areas with access to cheap and renewable electricity. The advantage is the possibility of using it as storage for intermittent renewable energy sources,” Sandstrom said in response to emailed questions.
Sandstrom said some customers will start testing the trucks in northern Europe in 2025. Hydrogen refueling infrastructure is not yet functional.
“Hydrogen refueling infrastructure for heavy vehicles is still significantly lacking and will take years to build up. We expect hydrogen refueling to take place mostly at public stations, with brief refueling stops similar to today’s diesel refueling operations , Sandstrom said.