Navistar, GM, OneH2 team on fuel cell trucks

By Mike Brezonick26 January 2021

Companies unveil end-to-end solution for zero-emissions long haul trucking.

Navistar, General Motors and OneH2 are collaborating on what they called a complete fuel cell vehicle ecosystem that will be piloted by J.B. Hunt.

Navistar, General Motors and hydrogen fueling specialist OneH2 have announced the introduction of what they called “a complete solution for customer implementation of a zero-emission long-haul system.” The system consists of a Navistar truck powered by GM’s Hydrotec fuel cell system and refueled by OneH2’s modular hydrogen production and refueling system.

The truck and refueling system will be piloted by one of the nation’s largest truckload carriers, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., a subsidiary of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.

“Hydrogen fuel cells offer great promise for heavy duty trucks in applications requiring a higher density of energy, fast refueling and additional range,” said Persio Lisboa, Navistar president and CEO. “We are excited to provide customers with added flexibility through a new hydrogen truck ecosystem that combines our vehicles with the hydrogen fuel cell technology of General Motors and the modular, mobile and scalable hydrogen production and fueling capabilities of OneH2. And we are very pleased that our valued customer J.B. Hunt has committed to utilize the solution on dedicated routes and to share key learnings.”

Navistar plans to make its first production model International RH Series fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) commercially available in model year 2024. Test vehicles are expected to begin the pilot phase with J.B. Hunt at the end of 2022. Navistar said the integrated solution will be competitive with other powertrain offerings with a target range of 500 miles or more and a hydrogen fueling time of less than 15 minutes.

One of the key technologies being used by Navistar is the General Motors Hydrotec fuel cell power cube. Incorporating both fuel cells and power and thermal management technologies, a pair will provide the Navistar RH fuel cell truck with a range of more than 500 miles.

The International RH Series FCEV will get its energy from two of GM’s Hydrotec fuel cell power cubes. GM said each power cube contains more than 300 hydrogen fuel cells, along with thermal and power management systems. The propulsion system will offer better power density for short-range travel, better short-burst kW output and a per-mile cost expected to be comparable to diesel in certain market segments, Navistar said.

“GM’s vision of a world with zero emissions isn’t limited to passenger vehicles,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “We believe in EVs for everyone. We’re thrilled to work with like-minded companies like Navistar and OneH2 to offer a complete solution for progressive carriers that want to eliminate tailpipe emissions with a power solution that can compete with diesel.”

Under its partnership agreement with Navistar, OneH2 will supply its hydrogen fueling solution, which includes hydrogen production, storage, delivery and safety. In addition, Navistar is taking a minority stake in OneH2. Through its affiliates, OneH2 plans to kickstart substantial hydrogen heavy truck refueling infrastructure by incorporating more than 2000 International RH Series FCEVs into existing truck fleets in the near term following the start of vehicle production

“We’re excited about the opportunity to partner with Navistar,” said Paul Dawson, OneH2 president and CEO. “We believe strongly that hydrogen fuel is the future of zero- emission renewable energy in the heavy truck market and are pleased that this agreement will provide additional scope for its application. Under this agreement, we will be able to offer fleets a zero-emission truck with total cost of operation lower than diesel in key segments of the industry.”

Navistar said the new collaboration represents an important milestone in its phased development of hydrogen fuel cell solutions as the technologies leverage Navistar’s battery electric vehicle platforms and provide the customer with a single-source, fully integrated zero-emission solution that includes vehicles, fueling and service.

“We’ve been internally discussing with our technical partners for a long time, the challenges of fuel cell vehicles,” Lisboa said. “And the main challenges really go beyond the technology, although the technology is key and essential for us to be able to perform with a tractor that can go in a long haul.

“But that wouldn’t be possible without the infrastructure. As you are seeing everywhere in the world, the infrastructure for hydrogen is one of the most challenging goals. Because once you have the infrastructure, then you are enabling the technology. After really pursuing all these opportunities and investigating all the alternatives, we basically are coming up with a model that we believe can be highly successful, which is this decentralized way of distributing hydrogen at an affordable cost. And that would enable a longer range for vehicles operating in long haul.

“So that’s why we wanted to do this not only with a vehicle, we didn’t want to talk about the infrastructure only and we couldn’t do it without a customer. That’s why what we are providing to the world is a solution that hopefully is going to gain scale enough that it will enable the infrastructure nationwide of hydrogen that we want to see.”

More information on the collaboration is available in the March issue of Diesel Progress.

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