BOSCH has formed a new joint venture in China with Qingling Motors, a premium commercial vehicle manufacturer with the potential to enter the Australian truck market.
According to the firm, its collaboration with a test fleet of 70 hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks due to hit Chinese roads by the end of the year could have significant implications for the future of the Australian heavy vehicle industry.
Bosch Hydrogen Powertrain Systems, a joint venture, will design, construct, and sell hydrogen fuel cells, with an initial focus on the Chinese market. Bosch’s Wuxi facility outside of Shanghai will start producing so-called fuel cell power modules later this year, supporting a market Bosch thinks will be valued over €18 billion ($AU28.2 billion) by the end of the decade.
The project’s long-term objective, according to Bosch, is to combine the project’s technology and commercial knowledge in order to expand the Chinese fuel-cell market and revolutionize the whole automobile industry.
Bosch Australia & New Zealand general manager of automotive aftermarket, Michael Werle, spoke to GoAutoNews Premium via video link from Melbourne this week and said the Chinese model could provide important insights into how the Australian long-haul trucking industry can remain viable as emissions regulations tighten.
“Hydrogen is an intriguing and feasible alternative for Australia, particularly in the context of long-haul trucking operations and other aspects of the heavy commercial landscape,” he added.
“Australia also has the capability of producing hydrogen domestically, so I believe there are a lot of possibilities for hydrogen-powered cars to become a part of our transportation future at the present.”
Mr Werle said that, while Bosch is also working on car electrification and improving existing internal combustion technology, hydrogen should be considered in nations where long-distance travel and decentralized population centers are commonplace.
“I believe hydrogen fuel-cell technology will become a more intriguing element of the technology mix in the future, particularly in nations with more remote rural areas, such as Australia.” It will solve issues like as range anxiety and extended refueling periods, which we know are issues that consumers are concerned about,” he added.
“For those reasons, Bosch is absolutely investing in this area.” We now have a comprehensive technological stack centered on hydrogen fuel cells, which we refer to as a “whole system approach,” and this is where the joint venture with Qingling will demonstrate the technology’s viability.
“Like China, Australia has large distances between major cities, and hydrogen is much easier to support from an infrastructure standpoint – obviously, hydrogen is a lot easier to transport in the traditional sense – and on a global level, we have solutions developed for these types of ‘hydrogen stations.'”
“As a result, hydrogen is a key component of the entire solution Bosch is considering for Australia.” If we can establish a solid business case for the technology here, I believe it’s a route we’ll see in the not-too-distant future.”
For some years, Australia has been doing toe-in-the-water tests with hydrogen-powered passenger car fleets.
Hyundai and Toyota, for example, have shown off their FCEV technology solely to state and local government fleets, with the latter allowing only 20 people the option to try hydrogen-powered driving on a lease-only basis.
Hydrogen-powered cars’ attractiveness to a wider audience is still limited due to a lack of refueling facilities.
However, with firms like Bosch, Air Liquide, Hazer, and others trying to modify current service stations for hydrogen refueling while also providing power grid support, it’s possible that the technology may operate in tandem with rapid charging EV networks.
“The unique opportunities for this scale of hydrogen production that also supports the electricity system arise when the developments connect to shared electricity networks, rather than being developed in isolation of existing shared networks,” according to an Australian Energy Market Commission report released earlier this year.
“When this happens, there will be a lot of room for generation following, ancillary, and network support services to be offered in a way that benefits the larger electrical market while [at the same time] meeting hydrogen demand.”