On 01.26.2022 Fuel Cells Works attended the webinar Mindful Mobility Tech Talks: Fuel Cell Electric Trucks In The Pacific Northwest, which included speakers from Daimler, Shell, Toyota, True Zero and was moderated by Nico Bouwkamp from the CaFCP.
The webinar, of course, focused on heavy-duty mobility like class-8 trucks in the Pacific Northwest and California. Presently California only has three hydrogen fueling stations for class-8 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), and all three are located in SoCal (no other U.S. state has public heavy-duty hydrogen fueling stations, yet). Steve Ellis from True Zero mentioned that True Zero is going to really begin to get into the heavy-duty refueling sector with some of the investments it will be making this year. Steve also mentioned that on the light-duty side True Zero has already begun to deploy stations capable of refueling four FCEVs at the same time.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the webinar was when Derek Rotz from Daimler North America shared the below slide. In it we can see that Daimler is intending to focus FCEVs only on long haul trucking. (Derek mentioned that BEVs would be too disruptive on long-haul routes to be effective competitors with FCEVs.)
The slide deserves scrutiny partly because in the webinar James Kast from Toyota North America went over the current trial that Toyota has been running. Toyota has a fleet of about 12 FCEV class-8 trucks operating in California right now. Ten of them are handling drayage operations and the remaining two are handling deliveries to local Toyota dealerships. While James did not offer a clear long-term heavy-duty mobility vision for Toyota, Daimler’s present focus on long-haul trucking vs Toyota’s current drayage operations suggest that FCEV makers see FCEVs fitting in differently on the heavy-duty mobility side. This is especially true since James also stated that Toyota has no ambitions right now to operate other heavy-duty FCEVs, like buses.
However, another reason why the Daimler information is worth taking a look at is because it shows that outside of long-haul trucking Daimler will initially be leaving other heavy-duty mobility functions up to BEVs. However, in the Q&A session at the end of the webinar Derek from Daimler was unable to offer concrete solutions for how Daimler plans on handling issues like cold weather, mountainous terrain, and limited electricity availability with any heavy-duty BEVs it produces.
It was also revealing in the webinar that none of the panelists were able to provide a clearly defined path to establishing a multi-state hydrogen refueling network. Nico with the CaFCP showed a slide from 2021 that shows the projected hydrogen refueling network that should be in place by 2035, but none of the panelists came close to the playbook that Hyzon has created and which Fuel Cells Works has reported on here. However, at least once during the discussion it was mentioned that deploying hydrogen on a return-to-base model is highly effective.
Tom Mourmouras mentioned that from Shell’s perspective it expects future fueling stations to offer multiple options such as liquid natural gas, hydrogen, and so forth. At least one station Shell currently operates in California is setup in that kind of a fashion.
While some of the information was useful the ultimate sentiment of the panelists was that many organizations globally are still struggling with the transition to a hydrogen economy. However, in a separate webinar Fuel Cells Works attended on 01.26.2022 Andrea Appel with VDE e.V. and Roxana Bekemohammadi with United States Hydrogen Alliance mentioned that pulling resources is the best way to achieve an effective local and global hydrogen economy. For example, when California uses insights Germany can offer on deploying hydrogen and when we can multiply that knowledge sharing, then we can avoid mistakes and quickly realize a zero emission economy globally. Certainly global cooperation can only help the world economy’s bottom line.
Jesse Lyon, Contributor
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