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Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Concept Unveiled

Daimler Trucks gave a preview of its roadmap towards a cleaner future for road freight at an event in Berlin overnight (September 16), pulling the covers off its new Mercedes-Benz GenH2 hydrogen truck and providing greater detail on its eActros battery-electric models.

Hydrogen future

While still in concept form at present, Daimler says the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 will begin customer trials in Europe in 2023 before entering series production in the second half of this decade. The finished truck will have a range of over 1000 kilometres and will be similar in capability to today's conventional Actros, with a gross weight of 40 tonnes and a maximum payload of around 25 tonnes.

The Mercedes-Benz GenH2 will be powered by a twin fuel cell and battery arrangement, with each fuel cell delivering 150kW and the battery providing an additional 400kW if needed. With a relatively modest 70kWh capacity, the battery is there to deliver extra power during peak loads, such as under acceleration or when climbing hills.

In a pre-series version the GenH2 is powered by two electric motors, each with 230kW of continuous power and 330kW of maximum power, and torque of 1577Nm and 2071Nm respectively.

The hydrogen is held in a cryogenic liquid form in two double-skinned stainless steel tanks cooled to -253 Celsius. Each tank has a capacity of 40kg.

In a rare move for two corporate rivals, the technology at the heart of the hydrogen fuel cell system comes from a joint venture formed recently between Daimler and Volvo Group, with additional collaboration also stemming from Rolls-Royce.

Infrastructure imperative

Presented via a livestream conference in the German capital by Daimler Trucks CEO Martin Daum, the GenH2 will of course rely on hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Also attending the premiere was Germany's Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Andreas Scheuer, who detailed the German Government's commitment to hydrogen as a pathway to meeting European emissions targets.

Scheuer stressed that hydrogen infrastructure was required urgently across not only Germany but Europe in general, while Daum pointed to a CO2-based road tax as a potential means of offsetting the higher cost of hydrogen and battery electric vehicles to achieve cost parity with traditional trucks for end users.

It was also stressed that in order to meet the challenges of climate change, the hydrogen or power used to run or charge such vehicles must come from renewable sources, not fossil fuels.

"If we can create green electricity and green hydrogen, then these vehicles are a core part in fulfilling the Paris agreement," said Mr Daum.

GenH2, eActros, and eActros LongHaul

While the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 will serve as Daimler's long-range, high-payload, carbon-neutral offering, customers can also turn to two other models to meet their needs: the eActros and eActros LongHaul.

Both battery-electric trucks, the eActros has a range of over 200 kilometres, is suited to urban applications and will enter series production in 2021. The eActros LongHaul, meanwhile, is aimed more at 'plannable' long-haul work and will have a range of around 500 kilometres.

The eActros LongHaul is a heavy-duty truck in the same vehicle class as the GenH2; Daimler says the high energy efficiency of its battery-electric drive system offers significant advantages for some applications, and for operators who don't need the higher range of the GenH2 hydrogen truck. And its charging infrastructure – largely charge points at operator depots – can be rolled out relatively quickly, ahead of the hydrogen infrastructure.

Global ePowertrain

Daimler says it's adopting a global uniform architecture for its all-electric trucks, with significant overlap of the technology across multiple products and brands (Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Fuso). At the heart of this 'ePowertrain' is an 'eDrive', with an e-axle fitted with one or two electric motors with an integrated transmission. As such, the Daimler eDrive will be applied across all medium- and heavy-duty battery-electric or hydrogen-based Daimler trucks.

Mr Daum said Daimler's approach would cater to a wide spectrum of operator needs and applications.

"Our customers make rational purchasing decisions and are unwilling to compromise on their trucks' suitability for everyday use, tonnage and range," he said.

"With our alternative drive concepts from Mercedes-Benz – the GenH2 Truck, the eActros LongHaul and the eActros – and our electric trucks of the Freightliner and Fuso brands, we have a clear focus on customer requirements and are creating genuine locally CO2-neutral alternatives for them."

Local options

Daimler Truck and Bus Australia Pacific President and CEO, Daniel Whitehead, said the products unveiled in Berlin underline an exciting future for the company as it transitions to cleaner transport solutions.

"Daimler is already the go-to choice for progressive Australian businesses who want to reduce fuel consumption and cut emissions with trucks that employ class-leading safety features," he said.

"The Freightliner Cascadia, Mercedes-Benz Actros and Fuso Shogun all feature Euro 6 or equivalent emission-level engines and we will also introduce the all-electric Fuso eCanter here next year.

"The new models previewed in Berlin, including a CO2-neutral heavy truck with up to 1000km of range, are especially exciting for Australia and point to a very promising future."