Daimler tackles stringent CO2 emissions reductions with battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cells

Will Shiers
February 19, 2020

Daimler Trucks will put its weight behind battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology as it tackles stringent EU CO2 targets. 

Truck makers must slash CO2 emissions of new vehicles by 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030, or face hefty fines. Martin Daum, chairman of the board of management at Daimler Trucks, said while Daimler will continue to invest in diesel, he is aware that such radical cuts aren’t achievable solely with the fuel. He added that in his opinion gas is a non-starter, stating that it will only give a 4% to 5% reduction. Instead Daum sees battery-electric, complemented by hydrogen fuel cells, as the only viable answer.

But according to Daum, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the widespread adoption of zero-emission trucks will be the lack of a charging infrastructure. He said nobody will invest in an infrastructure without a significant number of trucks on the road, and likewise hauliers won’t purchase the vehicles without an infrastructure in place. “Who will break this viscous circle?” he asked.

The answer, according to Daum, is Daimler. Its recently formed E-Mobility Group is starting a global initiative for electric truck charging infrastructure, in an attempt to aid its customers in their switch from diesel to electric.

Its aim, according to Gesa Reimelt, head of the E-Mobility Group, is to bring together the main players – electric truck customers, power grid operators, energy suppliers, charging hardware manufacturers and charging software providers. The initial focus of the eTruck Charging Initiative will be on opening charging stations at its European and North American customers’ premises. The project will then be rolled-out to Japan, and later to sites alongside key motorways. 

Although Daimler has ongoing customer trials of zero-emission trucks in Europe, North America and Japan, as of yet none are commercially available. First to go into series production will be the eActros next year, followed by eCanter and eEconic in 2022. No dates are available for right-hand-drive availability.

Daum said Daimler's fuel cell trucks will be in series production by the second half of the 2020s, with test vehicles on the road much sooner. He dismissed any suggestion that Daimler’s fuel cell programme had been accelerated by the recent arrival of Nikola and Hyundai in Europe.

Daum added that neither company were a concern to him, saying: “I respect all rivals, but I know how difficult it is for new entrants to gain market share in established markets.”

About the Author


Will Shiers

Will Shiers has held an HGV licence since the age of 21, and has been writing about commercial vehicles for the past 25 years. He started his career as technical editor on Motor Transport, before taking on the editorship of Truck & Driver. Since 2011 he has been the editor of industry leading weekly publication Commercial Motor. Will is the UK jury member of the International Truck of the Year.

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