Clean Fuel News

    Why transport buyers tell Hyzon hydrogen is a 'no-brainer'

    Originally posted by Jim Stinson | March 3, 2021 | Transport Dive | Original Article

    Hyzon Motors, a manufacturer of fuel-cell electric buses and trucks, said on Monday that it will establish a Chicago-area plant to produce a key component of hydrogen fuel cells, the membrane electrode assembly, for its commercial vehicles.

    The Chicago plant will help Hyzon reach production of up to 12,000 fuel-cell electric vehicles a year, Hyzon officials said in a news release. MEA production at the Hyzon Innovation Center is expected to start in Q4 with 28,000 square feet and go to 80,000 square feet in a second phase.

    The announcement comes at a time when the competition is heating up between electric trucks and fuel-cell trucks. The truck OEM industry has major players taking sides.

    Daimler Trucks and Scania declared they would focus on battery-electric trucks. But hydrogen-propelled trucks still have backers. Toyota and Hino Motors partnered last year to produce fuel-cell-powered prototypes for Japan. Cummins and Navistar announced last November they would produce a Class 8 hydrogen truck that Werner would test for regional hauls in California.

    One reason hydrogen raises questions is the production and distribution of it. Unlike gasoline or electricity, there is no major national or regional distribution network.

    But Craig Knight, Hyzon CEO, said the most important input he takes is from buyers, not hydrogen detractors, although he admits he hears and reads the hydrogen criticism.

    "We hear it often," said Knight. "But we don't hear it from our customers ... We listen to our customers; we don't listen to people talking about what is possible or not possible."

    ange and ease of refueling are things his customers want. Those, Knight said, he can provide. And fuel-cell electric trucks won't require the same extra space needed to refuel. In short, it will be easier for fleets to ready their lots and depots for hydrogen as opposed to electric, Knight said.

    The big problem for electric trucks is their fuel supplier, the national grid. Knight said customers tell him that the grid is not ready for a large number of electric trucks, and even regional grids have had problems keeping up with electric buses and trucks.

    An electric Class 8 truck requires between 1.7 megawatts and 1.8 megawatts to charge for an hour. Knight said buyers of electric buses and trucks are finding the vehicles have to be sidelined from time to time, because the grid cannot handle that kind of simultaneous demand.