Posted on 01/27/22

Hydrogen Powered Auto Transport Trucks May Be Available Soon

Hydrogen Powered Auto Transport Trucks May Be Available Soon

We have written before about hydrogen's potential. It doesn't matter if we're discussing fleet vehicles or how legislation is affecting California's alternative energy market, this fascinating topic is worth exploring. It's a very important topic, considering that fuel is the largest cost in car transportation. It's easy for people to laugh when we say that "hydrogen-powered auto transport trucks may soon be here." But it's something we've been saying for many years.

Join the Nikola Motor Company

The Nikola Motor Company is a hybrid truck design company that also does research and development. Perhaps their pioneering work in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial trucks is what makes them most famous. This article states that they plan to have battery-electric models for local trucks.

Since at least 2013, the name has circulated in various industries. The company has been quiet about the hydrogen powertrain for six years. The difficulty and cost of building the hydrogen fuel infrastructure is major reason. Hydrogen-powered vehicles need to be refueled, just like gasoline. The biggest obstacle to hydrogen-powered trucks is having the infrastructure in place.

NMC now claims they will construct it.

The egg and the chicken

NMC hopes to have its first hydrogen-powered truck by 2022. However, NMC needs to have the infrastructure and fueling to make that happen. Industry insiders call this the "chicken-and-the egg" dilemma. Hydrogen-powered trucks can't be powered if fueling stations don't work as they are supposed to. However, if stations are built but the trucks fail to pass through, then all the stations will be useless. It's not as if hydrogen is inexpensive to transport. Getting the hydrogen to the stations to be used to refuel trucks is a logistical and financial problem.

It's quite the pickle.

NMC claims they have solved the problem by manufacturing hydrogen on-site at fueling stations. One has been built near NMC's Arizona headquarters. A heavy-duty version is expected to be built in Chandler next. It is planned to build a complete eight-ton hydrogen fueling station in 2021. This will mark the beginning of a huge ramp-up in station construction in 2022.

Nikola's Executive Vice President for Hydrogen Jesse Schneider said that each station would produce hydrogen on-site. The stations can produce up to eight tonnes of hydrogen per day. The cost per kilogram would be $6 This is because the NMC trucks have a fuel tank of 80 kilograms.

It costs $480 to fill up a truck. These are the public rates, so commercial fleets will likely receive discounts. Furthermore, the cost per mile for hydrogen fuel over the full seven-year lease (the length of one NMC's tucks) will only be 95 cents.

The power to power the masses

NMC's fueling stations are based on Ryder System, Inc.'s 800+ service points nationwide. The lease terms include fuel as a key part. NMC will be able to fix the fuel price for at least seven consecutive years. NMC expects to be able to fuel 150 trucks and 200 cars per hour with this information in mind. Truck fueling takes less than ten minutes.

NMC truck buyers will have access to the service stations for maintenance. Ryder employees will need to be trained more, but bundling the truck lease cost should reduce the financial burden for companies switching to hydrogen.

Companies that are looking to make the switch to hydrogen have to overcome simple financial hurdles. Although it's been difficult to operate a commercial truck, the diesel model makes it more manageable. NMC's hydrogen model is not only expected to be cheaper per mile but also more environmentally friendly.

If everything goes according to plan the service stations will be powered with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. This applies to all services provided by the company. Their production plants will be powered by renewable energy.

Jesse Schneider, executive vice president of the company, believes that diesel could be dead in two decades if all goes well. Although that might seem extreme, it is not impossible to find other miracles.

Also, hydrogen-powered auto transport trucks

As of now, hydrogen-powered auto transport trucks are not mentioned. Auto transportation trucks can be hooked up to any type of cab, just like commercial trucks. When we talk about hydrogen-powered trucks, we mostly mean the engine and the cabin.

It is likely that automobile transport companies will look at hydrogen when it becomes available. As with car transporters, conversion and rollout will be slow. Many of the truck drivers are single-truck operators. Buying a new truck for a small business is not an easy task. Even large fleets may take their time with hydrogen-powered auto transport trucks.

These companies face a lot of risks when switching to hydrogen trucks. First, it is difficult to refuel if there is no infrastructure. There will also be areas that are not accessible to hydrogen-powered trucks. Although there are over 800 service and fueling stations across the country, where these stations will be will have an impact on who can and cannot buy a hydrogen-powered truck. It will be difficult to fuel the truck if they travel far from these service stations.

Most auto transport routes run through major cities. Many car haulers can switch if the roads between major cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago are filled with hydrogen refueling stations.

They will. We'll find out in the future. As NMC nears launching their first truck, we'll be keeping an eye on the story.

Author's edit - Nikola used his semi-truck to deliver several Model 3 cars. Ironically, cars were one of the first things that the hydrogen truck hauled!