British start-up Tevva launches hydrogen electric truck

British start-up Tevva launched a hydrogen-powered electric truck on Thursday, becoming the latest company to play in a sector that is attracting interest from multinationals like Daimler Truck and Volvo.

According to Tevva, which says it has raised $140 million in funding, its vehicle will have a range of up to 310 miles, or just under 500 kilometers.

Filling the hydrogen tanks will take 10 minutes while charging the battery “from fully discharged to 100%” will take five to six hours.

The company’s first hydrogen electric truck will weigh 7.5 metric tons, with later versions expected to weigh 12 and 19 metric tons.

In a statement, Tevva sought to explain the rationale behind the combination of a fuel cell and a battery. “The fuel cell system recharges the battery, extending the vehicle’s range and allowing the truck to haul heavier loads over longer distances.”

Alongside its hydrogen electric truck, the company has also developed an electric truck which it claims has a range of up to 160 miles. Details of the electric and hydrogen electric trucks were previously announced by Tevva.

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In an interview with CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Thursday, Tevva CEO Asher Bennett was asked if his company was looking to branch out into smaller vehicles.

“We’re not interested in developing the small vans or pickups,” Bennett said. “These are, in many cases, very similar technology to large electric sedans, which perform very well,” he added.

“We’re very focused on the heavyweights and we’re slowly getting heavier and heavier because those are the segments that are much more difficult to electrify.”

As governments around the world look to reduce the environmental footprint of transportation, a number of trucking companies are exploring ways to develop low- or zero-emission vehicles, including those that use hydrogen.

Volvo Trucks last month said it had started testing vehicles using “hydrogen-powered fuel cells”, with the Swedish company saying their range could extend to 1,000 kilometres, just over 621 miles.

Volvo Trucks, headquartered in Gothenburg, said refueling the vehicles would take less than 15 minutes. Customer pilots are expected to begin in the next few years, with commercialization “expected for the latter part of this decade”.

In addition to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Volvo Trucks, part of the Volvo Group, has also developed battery-electric trucks.

Like Volvo Trucks and Tevva, Daimler Truck focuses on both battery electric vehicles and those that use hydrogen.

In an interview with CNBC last year, Martin Daum, chairman of the board of Daimler Truck, was asked about the debate between electric batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

“We’re going for both because both…make sense,” he replied, before explaining how different technologies would be appropriate in different scenarios.

Although some quarters are enthusiastic about the potential of hydrogen vehicles, there are barriers to the expansion of the sector, particularly with regard to the development of adequate refueling infrastructure. How hydrogen is produced is also an issue.

Both of these points were acknowledged by Volvo Trucks in June when it highlighted challenges such as “large-scale supply of green hydrogen” as well as “the fact that the refueling infrastructure for heavy-duty vehicles has yet to be developed”. .

Hydrogen can be produced in several ways. One method is to use electrolysis, with an electric current splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen.

If the electricity used in this process comes from a renewable source such as wind or solar power, some call it “green” or “renewable” hydrogen. Today, the vast majority of hydrogen production is based on fossil fuels.

For its part, Tevva said it will help its customers “access sustainable and affordable hydrogen supplies in a safe and convenient way alongside their purchase or lease of Tevva hydrogen trucks.”

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