GM signs fuel cell collaboration deals

The Detroit heavyweight is hedging its bets on whether hydrogen might be a solution in the HDV segment

GM signs fuel cell collaboration deals
GM will co-develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu’s 930E electric drive mining truck

Automaker GM has signed two deals to collaborate on hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) as it looks to develop the technology.

A deal with Japanese mining equipment manufacturer Komatsu will see the Detroit Three automaker co-develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu’s 930E electric drive mining truck.

GM and Komatsu intend to test the first prototype hydrogen FCEV in the mid-2020s at Komatsu’s Arizona Proving Grounds research and development facility. The vehicle will be powered by over 2MW of GM's hydrotec power cubes.

Hydrogen is run through a a series of over 300 fuel cells in the power cube to create an electrical current that powers a motor.

 The firms say the solution is well suited to mining applications because it can store large quantities of energy onboard the vehicle and avoids the need for charging infrastructure within mines.

“Mining trucks are among the largest, most capable vehicles used in any industry, and we believe hydrogen fuel cells are best suited to deliver zero emissions propulsion to these demanding applications,” says Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Hydrotec business.

A second deal will see GM's Hydrotec power cubes incorporated into Autocar's range of class 8 vocational trucks.

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Hydrotec-equipped vehicles will be built to order by Autocar and sold directly to customers, with first production expected in 2026.

Cement mixers, roll-off trucks and dump trucks will be built in a first phase, followed by refuse trucks and terminal tractors in a second phase.

"Larger vehicles like Autocar’s class 8 trucks, refuse trucks and terminal tractors require robust solutions that enable significant energy carrying capacity and fast refueling times,” says Freese.

Heavy-duty transportation was targeted by the US Hydrogen Strategy as a key sector more suited to hydrogen technologies than electrification.

Last year's Inflation Reduction Act established a a $1bn grant for clean heavy-duty vehicles — including fuel cell trucks — to be distributed by the EPA in the form of grants. The structure of the grant programme is still being established.

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