Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS), a zero-emission, hydrogen-powered commercial vehicle innovator, has unveiled its latest breakthrough in the haulage industry – a clean-sheet-designed hydrogen-electric Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV).
With a focus on ground-up design and development, HVS aims to be the first indigenous UK company to bring a hydrogen-electric HGV to the market. This new technology demonstrator showcases HVS’ game-changing hydrogen powertrain, which has the potential to play a crucial role in achieving emissions reduction targets set by the government for the haulage industry.
HVS was founded in 2017 in Glasgow and is composed of industry specialists with vast experience in automotive, energy, hydrogen technology, power electronics, sustainability, and environmental management fields. The company has received funding from various sources, including the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Innovate UK, Scottish Enterprise, and Energy Technology Partnership. HVS’ strategic investment partner is the EG Group, a service station and grocery corporation, which offers hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, a fleet customer base, and potential for global scalability.
The HVS hydrogen-electric HGV features a unique ground-up design, with a chassis built in-house around the hydrogen powertrain. The powertrain consists of pressurized hydrogen cylinders, fuel cells, an energy storage system, and electrified rear axle. The design brings innovation in packaging, performance, efficiency, weight, range, consumption, maintenance, and lifecycle benefits. Compared with current Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) trucks, the technology demonstrator’s design allows for significantly improved aerodynamics, leading to enhanced fuel efficiency on long-haul runs and improved spatial ergonomics within the cab, including better access and more room at the controls.
The vehicle powertrain employs a fuel cell system and energy storage system to deploy electricity to an electric motor, which transmits power to the wheels. The Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) recaptures energy under braking and while the truck is slowing down. The integrated powertrain is controlled with HVS’ advanced control system called SEMAS, which monitors interactions between drivers and control systems, delivering class-leading fuel efficiency and durability. The fuel cell permits longer range, higher load-carrying capacity, and faster refuelling compared to battery-electric technology alone, with a typical refuelling time of around 20 minutes, similar to diesel refuelling. The only emission from the vehicle is water vapor, making it a truly zero-emission option for the haulage industry.
One of the key advantages of hydrogen-powered vehicles, including the HVS HGV, is their long range and quick refuelling capabilities. Depending on the journey, road conditions, and driving style, the HVS HGV has a capacity to travel up to 370 miles (600 km) on a single refuelling. Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, which require charging, hydrogen-powered vehicles are refuelled with hydrogen gas stored at pressure in hydrogen cylinders, making refuelling times comparable to filling a truck with diesel. This quick refuelling capability, along with the long range, makes hydrogen-powered vehicles well-suited for long-haul transportation, where time is a critical factor.
The potential impact of HVS’ hydrogen-electric HGV on the haulage industry could be significant. With government targets to curtail sales of all non-zero emission 3.5-26t HGVs by 2035 or earlier, and all sales of new non-zero emission HGVs by 2040, the development and adoption of zero-emission commercial vehicles such as the HVS HGV could play a crucial role in achieving these targets.