Image: CaFCP

The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) recently released a new foundational document for heavy-duty class 8 fuel cell electric trucks (FCETs), titled “Fuel Cell Electric Trucks: A Vision for Freight Movement in California and Beyond.”

The document envisions 70,000 trucks supported by 200 heavy-duty truck stations by 2035. The vision underlines the critical importance of policies that stimulate and accelerate private investment in order to attain this interim target of 100 percent zero-emission trucks by 2045.

“Getting to a zero-emission future requires the partnership of government and industry, and the utilization of every tool at our disposal,” said Jerome Gregeois, Director Commercial Vehicles Development at Hyundai-Kia and chair of the CaFCP board of directors. “At Hyundai-Kia, we know that battery and fuel cell electric technologies are needed to meet the diverse needs of our customers.”

The vision underlines the need of both zero-emission vehicle technology and the fact that “true zero-emission transition success requires the unique capabilities of FCETs.”

Although heavy-duty trucks account for less than 2% of cars on California roads, they account for more than 9% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, 32% of nitrogen oxide emissions, and 3% of particle emissions.

“The successful rollout of heavy-duty, zero-emission trucks requires the interplay of several key elements. In the case of FCETs, that includes synchronizing vehicle rollout with hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and renewable and zero-carbon hydrogen production,” said Joe Cappello, CEO of Iwatani Corporation of America and vice chair of CaFCP.

By 2035, with the appropriate policy mechanisms in place, the vision envisions a self-sustaining market. A draft report by the California Air Resources Board believes that a self-sufficient network of light-duty fuel cell passenger cars is achievable, implying that the same may be said for heavy-duty fuel cell trucks. According to the vision, “by establishing the essential market signals and circumstances, members of the California Fuel Cell Partnership have confidence in the successful transition of this complex and difficult-to-mitigate emissions sector and envision a road to market sustainability.”

The vision statement was released in conjunction with the California Air Resources Board’s Advanced Clean Truck rule, the world’s first law requiring truck manufacturers to migrate from diesel trucks and vans to zero-emission electric trucks by 2024.

“California has set aggressive goals to achieve zero-emission fleets across vehicle categories, including cars, buses, and trucks,” said Bill Elrick, executive director of CaFCP. “We can only achieve these goals through collaboration between government and private industry, and policies that promote and attract investment. The time to act—and invest—is now, if we intend to transition quickly and successfully to a self-sustaining market.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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