Colruyt Group is the first in Europe to start a test of a 44 tonne heavy-duty full electric truck with a hydrogen “range extender”.
The truck was developed by VDL Groep in Eindhoven and the test is part of the European Interreg demonstration project Hydrogen Region 2.0.
While driving, the truck’s batteries are recharged with the electricity generated by the hydrogen fuel cell. Besides its sustainable character through the use of green energy and hydrogen, an additional advantage of this vehicle is that it can cover longer distances than other electric trucks – an important asset for freight transport. Colruyt Group believes that hydrogen can play an important role in making mobility and energy supply more sustainable. That is why the group has been investing in this green energy carrier for years, hoping that other companies will follow suit.
First 44 tonne heavy-duty in Europe operational Colruyt Group
As a dedicated end user, Colruyt Group will test the hydrogen truck in its daily logistic operations. Given the diversity of the group’s activities, it will be possible to test a variety of user cases, including store deliveries. In this way, the group fully lives up to its pioneering role in the practical application of green energy. The truck is also much quieter than others, which also supports Colruyt Group’s ambition for more silent deliveries. For this specific test, we are actively collaborating with VDL Groep, the manufacturer of the new truck.
Regine Vaneghem, Head of Transport at Colruyt,is enthusiastic: “Our goal is to gain knowledge and experience to prove that hydrogen technology can be used efficiently in heavy-duty logistics. We strongly believe in the future important role of green hydrogen as a sustainable option: renewable and without CO2 emissions. We are very excited about this European test project in which hydrogen technology is integrated to make the heavy-duty logistics sector more sustainable.”
Colruyt Group and VDL Groep are active partners of the European Hydrogen Region 2.0 demonstration project, which aims to build up knowledge and experience with large-scale hydrogen applications in logistics. By widely sharing the experience gained, Hydrogen Region 2.0 wants to inspire other major logistics centres to start using hydrogen-powered vehicles as well. This project is made possible by financial support from the European Union within the framework of the Interreg Flanders-Netherlands programme.
Director Menno Kleingeld of VDL Enabling Transport Solutions, part of VDL Groep, indicates: “The collaboration with Colruyt Group in the run-up to this introduction went well: our family businesses share the values of innovation and sustainability. The technology we have developed for our buses, is also widely applicable to other, heavy electric vehicles, such as trucks, also powered by hydrogen. We are proud that Colruyt Group uses this progressive and sustainable hydrogen truck in the context of Interreg. We are confident that together we will take the next steps in the process of this cooperation.”
Adwin Martens, director of WaterstofNet adds: “As WaterstofNet we have been stimulating cross-border cooperation between Flanders and the Netherlands on hydrogen for several years now. The cooperation between Colruyt Group and VDL within the Hydrogen Region 2.0 Interreg programme is a nice example of this. We are therefore very pleased with this new milestone. We see great potential for hydrogen-powered heavy transport applications. With this demonstration we take the lead in Europe and show hydrogen solutions which are being developed and tested in our region. Therefore, this project is an important step towards introducing hydrogen-powered trucks to the market.”
Colruyt Group at the forefront of hydrogen
Since 2004, Colruyt Group has invested €6 million in innovative hydrogen projects. For example, the group has been producing green hydrogen at the Dassenveld logistics site for some years now. A number of forklift trucks are hydrogen-powered in the distribution centre. In addition, hydrogen is used for 20 passenger cars, which are operational within the group. In October 2018 the group opened the first green public hydrogen filling station: the DATS 24 station in the Zinkstraat in Halle became the first fully integrated station in Europe offering all possible kinds of fuels.
Regine Vaneghem: “Adding this test to our track record of previous initiatives is another step in the right direction in our choice for energy transition, exactly two years after we inaugurated our hydrogen filling station. It is an immense step within the innovations in heavy transport and we hope that this can be an inspiration for other companies. We therefore call on them to opt in full for the energy transition, with hydrogen as an important lever, and continue to plead for a stable investment climate.”
Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister of Economy and Innovation: “We have to everything we can when it comes to sustainability. We have made this an absolute priority in the Flemish Resilience Relaunch Plan. In the meantime, we developed the very first Flemish hydrogen vision and will invest more than 125 million euros in hydrogen technology and development in the coming years. Hydrogen has enormous potential, for example to reduce emissions from heavy transport. It is therefore excellent that Colruyt Group is putting its shoulders to the wheel on this and is going to use hydrogen for its daily logistics operations. As a Flemish minister, I am proud that we have been able to support this.”
This project was financed within the Interreg V programme Flanders-Netherlands with financial support from the European Regional Development Fund. For more information, visit: www.grensregio.eu
WaterstofNet is a knowledge and cooperation platform which contributes to a carbon-neutral society by supporting and setting up hydrogen projects in Flanders and the Netherlands. Together with industry and governments, we set up concrete projects in the field and lay the foundation for further cooperation. In this way, we allow Flanders and the Netherlands to further grow into a leading hydrogen region. More info www.waterstofnet.eu
About VDL Groep
Strength through cooperation. That is the basis of VDL Groep, the international industrial family business with head office in Eindhoven. This company was founded in 1953 by Pieter van der Leegte. Initially, VDL Groep specialised in metalworking. When his son Wim van der Leegte took over the company in 1966, the company specialised in high-tech subcontracting for the semiconductor industry and the portfolio was expanded to include plastics processing, the development, manufacture and sale of buses. VDL Groep is a major player in the subcontracting and semi-finished products sectors, produces its own finished products such as suspension systems, is active in automotive factory automation, builds heat exchangers and container handling systems, and with VDL Nedcar in Born it is the Netherlands’ only large passenger car assembly factory, which carries out assembly line production of cars for third parties.
VDL Groep innovates through a combination of craftsmanship, entrepreneurship and high-quality machinery. The group of companies combines the clout of a multinational with the flat organisation and open, informal working atmosphere of a family business, where priority is given to growth opportunities and continuity. Since 2016, the third generation of the Van der Leegte family has taken over the reins. With more than 15,000 employees, VLD Groep is active in 20 countries. The group has 104 operating companies, each with its own speciality, which work closely together. The combined annual turnover in 2019 amounted to €5,780 billion. More information: www.vdlgroep.com