Schaeffler to debut fuel cell van

Schaeffler is considering using hydrogen to power commercial vehicles. The fuel cell system provider has created components and is getting them ready for industrialization.

Schaeffler will display a demonstration vehicle that was entirely rebuilt on the basis of an electric transporter at the IAA Transportation in Hanover. The provider collaborated on this project with its Chinese fuel cell technology manufacturer, Refire, through its partnership partner. The VW Crafter served as the foundation for the makeover, based on news images. This indicates that Bosch will also be bringing two fuel cell transporters to the trade exhibition in Hanover.

In the instance of Schaeffler, the vehicle is propelled by a fuel cell system and a 3in1 electric axle. Schaeffler is responsible for the fuel cell stack, electric axle drive, system control, and energy management.

The FCEV features a 50 kW fuel cell and will make its premiere at the Hanover exhibition center in outdoor area U47. Regarding the size and position of the hydrogen tanks, Schaeffler gives no details. The battery can produce up to 85 kW of electricity and has a 13 kWh capacity. 140 kW is the maximum power of the 3-in-1 axle.

Matthias Zink, Member of the Executive Board for Automotive Technologies at Schaeffler AG, noted that the fuel cell is a logical addition to the powertrain mix of commercial vehicles for Schaeffler. In the beginning, fuel cell drives in interurban traffic will be mostly used for commercial vehicles. However, vehicles that often travel greater distances can also make use of hydrogen operation’s benefits.

As a result, the supplier is already making preparations for the manufacturing of FC components: Schaeffler and Symbio plan to start mass-producing bipolar plates for fuel cells by the beginning of 2024. The bipolar plate is a crucial part of an FC stack and one of the primary determinants of the system’s effectiveness. Despite only being between 50 and 100 micrometers thick, it makes up to 80% of the stack’s weight and up to 65% of its volume.