With 2050 net-zero targets looming, the pressure is on to embrace new energy systems. For the freight industry, the focus is on battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric propulsion. The long-term success of decarbonising technology in the commercial segment will hinge on performance and cost.
“The main problem with battery-electric freight vehicles currently is the heavy battery and the long recharging time,” says Ben Nyland, Chief Executive of Vancouver-based fuel cell supplier Loop Energy. “A hydrogen fuel cell, or hydrogen fuel cell range extender, is more efficient in this respect and can enable vehicles to have longer ranges.” He suggests that battery electric vehicles coupled with range extenders can increase their range by up to three times, have higher payload capacities and offer faster refuelling times.
With the Renault Master Z.E. van, the addition of a small hydrogen range extender boosts the range from 120km to 350km. For Renault’s electric Kangoo model, it facilitates a smaller but still notable jump from 230km to 350km. UK start-up Tevva is also deploying a fuel cell range extender on its upcoming 7.5 tonne electric Tevva Truck, which boasts a maximum range of 300 miles.