Electromobility: the truck charging network of the future – Economy

Daimler Truck relies on batteries and hydrogen for the drives of the future. Photo: dpa / Daimler Trucks

Three producers of heavy commercial vehicles – Daimler Truck, Volvo Group and a subsidiary of VW Traton – want to work together on the expansion of a charging station for green electricity. Daimler Truck relies on electric and hydrogen drives.

The three major commercial vehicle manufacturers Daimler Truck, Volvo Group and VW subsidiary Traton Group are starting to build and operate a high-performance public charging network in Europe. The joint venture, announced last year and completed, plans to build and operate at least 1,700 green electricity charging points on and near highways and at logistics hubs in Europe. The three partners want to invest a total of EUR 500 million in this. According to the companies, it is the largest investment in truck charging infrastructure in Europe so far.

Development of a pan-European charging network

The legally independent joint venture will be based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Anja van Niersen, who will lead the new company, presents experiences related to energy and charging infrastructure. Most recently, she was the chairman of the supervisory board, and previously the head of a large European supplier of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Daimler Truck, Volvo and Traton hope to find other partners for the charging network, but also rely on public funding. “We are now taking the first step towards accelerating the transition to sustainable transport without fossil fuels. The second step should be the strong commitment of the EU to the complete expansion of the charging network throughout Europe – said the head of Traton Matthias Gründler during the presentation of the cooperation.

Truck manufacturers are under no illusions

German truck manufacturers have no illusions. The ringing bells also ring for diesels in your industry. A technical revolution is approaching, to which companies react surprisingly calmly. The reason: you have been working for years on alternative and CO2-neutral forms of driving. However, it remains to be seen which engine will ultimately prevail in heavy vehicles.

For this reason, Daimler Truck pursues a dual strategy. The commercial vehicle manufacturer relies on batteries and hydrogen drives. The timeframe has already been established. By 2039, the industry leader, according to its own declarations, wants to offer only new vehicles in global major markets that are CO2 neutral while driving.

Various areas of vehicle application

The fields of application of vehicles are sometimes very different. Batteries are installed in lighter trucks with short driving distances. The situation is completely different in heavy long-distance transport – if the trucks are to travel many hundreds of kilometers with heavy loads, Daimler Trucks estimates that hydrogen propulsion is likely to win the races.

“Hydrogen green will play a key role,” emphasizes Andreas Gorbach, member of the Daimler Truck board of directors. Fuel is still scarce and very expensive, but Gorbach is convinced: “We assume that it will be sold at very attractive prices in the future.” Of course, the Stuttgart engineers also believe that hydrogen will not only be used in the transport sector, it will play a big role. According to Daimler engineers, only hydrogen, as an energy source that can be stored for long periods, enables a stable, completely renewable power supply. In addition, there are many application areas that can only be decarbonised with hydrogen.

Support that politicians count on

The Stuttgart-based company receives support from politicians in the development of climate-neutral drive technology. “The current proposal for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles cannot serve as a plan to update the CO2 legislation for heavy commercial vehicles,” says Baden-Württemberg Economy Minister Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut. “We really need an approach that is open to technology to meet a variety of requirements.” In the fight against climate change, policies also in this case are based on the ingenuity and pragmatism of Swabia, which should outweigh the competition. “In this way, we maintain the creation of value and jobs in the country,” explains Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut.

Many are still in their infancy

It was only in April this year that she was able to announce success in this case. Daimler Truck will build a fuel cell factory near Stuttgart with Volvo. The Cellcentric joint venture is expected to start production in 2026 and initially provide nearly 500 jobs. When it comes to drive development, Daimler’s manager Andreas Gorbach is optimistic, even if all drives are in their infancy at the moment. The goal is, for example, for a hydrogen fuel cell truck with a range of more than 1000 km to go into series production in 2027.

Truck manufacturers are much more concerned with providing their vehicles with the right fuel for everyday use. Here, Gorbach also sees the advantages of hydrogen, which offers greater range, shorter refueling times and thus greater flexibility.

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