Renault Trucks testing hydrogen-powered truck

Volvo brand Renault Trucks will be working with the French Post Office to test a Maxity Electric model truck with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell.

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Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste) are pursuing their commitment to a sustainable development strategy and will be introducing, on an experimental basis and as a first in Europe, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender.

Renault Trucks has been experimenting, in partnership with La Poste, a Maxity Electric model designed with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell, developed by Symbio FCell, which serves to double the vehicle’s autonomy. This test, scheduled to last a year, will enable Renault Trucks to explore hydrogen technology under actual operating conditions.

“This vehicle generates no noise and only releases water vapor; 200 km of autonomy make it the ideal choice for a daily schedule of urban and suburban routes,” says Karine Forien, Director of Energy Efficiency Strategy with Renault Trucks.

For La Poste, which at present owns the world’s largest fleet of electric vehicles, this experiment is part of a continuous effort underway to extend the autonomy of its fleet.

“Hydrogen stands out today as an efficient solution for extending the possibilities of the electric vehicle product line and its autonomy. More broadly, the development of a hydrogen-based energy storage system is a linchpin to our energy transition,” explains Frédéric Delaval, Technical Director of the Mail and Package Delivery Services Office at La Poste.

Renault Trucks has configured its 4.5-ton Maxity Electric vehicle to accommodate a fuel cell, with the development and vehicle integration steps being carried out in partnership with the firm Symbio FCell. As a result, Maxity Electric’s average autonomy of approx. 100 kilometers has been bumped up another 100 km thanks to energy supplied by the fuel cell.

When the vehicle is running, the electric motor is fed by two complementary energy sources; the fuel cell is capable of delivering a maximum power of 20 kW and, once that threshold has been reached, the batteries kick in to supply whatever power is still required. When idle, the fuel cell is available to recharge the battery as needed, says Christophe Vacquier, supervising the project. The heat released by the cell is then reused to warm the passenger compartment, which avoids having to consume any energy stored in the batteries, thus helping ensure longer autonomy.

Certified and registered by Renault Trucks, Maxity Electric with a hydrogen-powered range extender will be operated in the city of Dole. Due to this region’s especially harsh winter weather conditions, Dole will serve as the backdrop for the Post Office’s entire experimental fleet.