Since the beginning of the year, Daimler Truck has been detached from Mercedes-Benz and is now its own listed company. Like the former car sister, the truck and bus manufacturers are also pushing ahead with the electrification of their range. However, Daimler Truck will rely on purely battery-powered systems and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in the future. The group confirmed this again in the new year.
"Daimler Truck has set the strategic course for itself and is consistently pursuing a dual strategy in the electrification of its portfolio: with batteries and hydrogen-based drives," says a statement. The background is the many different applications and tasks of trucks. Hydrogen-based drives could be the better solution for flexible and demanding applications, especially in heavy long-distance transport.
The same applies to electrified trucks: When choosing their vehicles, transport companies make rational purchasing decisions based on the total operating costs, and they also do not want to make any compromises when it comes to suitability for everyday use, cargo, and range, emphasizes Daimler Truck. The aim is to continue to offer customers the best possible vehicle solutions for all areas of application.
"There will always be discussions that only deal with individual aspects of different alternative drive forms, such as energy efficiency. This is indeed higher with battery-electric drives than with hydrogen-based drives. Still, the view of the big picture is forgotten," says Daimler Truck Board Member Andreas Gorbach, responsible for technology.
In addition to efficiency, the availability of a corresponding infrastructure and sufficient green energy are decisive for a successful conversion to zero-emission technologies, explains Gorbach. "We are convinced that this energy requirement can only be met quickly and cost-effectively using both technologies." Consequently, global trade will have to be in a CO2-neutral energy source. "Green" hydrogen will play a central role in this.
"We assume that this will be traded at desirable prices in the future. However, we also see advantages in terms of costs and technical feasibility of the hydrogen infrastructure, as well as greater ranges, flexibility, and shorter refueling times for customers," says Gorbach. "Hydrogen trucks can be a sensible option for our customers, especially in tough long-distance transport operations, especially in terms of the total cost of ownership – even if the energy efficiency is lower. So when it comes to finding the best transport solution, energy efficiency is an important, but by no means sufficient, criterion."
With Linde, Daimler Truck has been developing a new generation of liquid hydrogen refueling technology for fuel cell trucks for some time. The aim is to make filling up with hydrogen easy and practical. In the infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations along essential transport routes in Europe, Daimler Truck plans to work together with Shell, BP, and TotalEnergies. In addition, Daimler Truck, Iveco, Linde, OMV, Shell, TotalEnergies, and the Volvo Group want to help hydrogen trucks achieve a breakthrough throughout Europe as part of the H2Accelerate (H2A) interest group.
Together with the Volvo Group, Daimler Truck founded Cellcentric in 2021. The partners want to turn the joint venture into one of the world's leading manufacturers of fuel cell systems. To this end, Cellcentric is to set up one of the most extensive series production facilities in Europe from 2025.
The Mercedes-Benz eCitaro bus and the Mercedes-Benz eActros truck are rolling off the assembly line at Daimler Truck in series with battery drives. The low-floor Mercedes-Benz eEconic truck, the light commercial vehicle FUSO eCanter, and the large US truck Freightliner eCascadia are to follow this year – other vehicles are planned, including a purely electric truck for long-distance journeys. The fuel cell prototype Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck has been in test operation since last year on the hydrogen side. The development goal is a range of up to 1000 km or more for the series vehicle, which are scheduled to go into production in 2027.