UK gets first hydrogen fuel cell HGV with landmark Tevva launch

Hydrogen fuel cell

Electric and hydrogen truck pioneer Tevva is launching the first hydrogen fuel cell-supported heavy goods vehicle (HGV) to be manufactured, designed and mass produced in the UK.

The Tilbury-headquartered scale-up, which has so far raised $140m in funding, will unveil its hydrogen electric vehicle alongside its latest full-battery electric HGV at the Road Transport Expo in Warwickshire.

Hydrogen has been used safely in buses and other vehicles in more than twenty countries for many years and has a higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries or even diesel. Because of these properties, it is particularly attractive for use in larger, commercial vehicles.

By adding a hydrogen fuel cell system to its battery-electric HGV design, Tevva is delivering zero-emission solutions that will work for the overwhelming majority of fleet operators across a range of industries and sectors. The fuel cell system tops up the battery, extending the vehicle’s range and allowing the truck to carry heavier loads over longer distances.

Tevva CEO and founder Asher Bennett said: “We are excited to launch our hydrogen electric HGV, creating a landmark moment for Tevva and UK manufacturing. We firmly believe that the post-fossil fuel future, which is quickly approaching, will see a new range of technologies and fuels take centre stage in the transport industry.

“By embracing hydrogen, we are futureproofing ourselves, our clients and the industries and communities they operate in. We also pride ourselves on the fact that our vehicles are safe, reliable and go the distance. Combined with our commitment to customer service, we believe that Tevva’s hydrogen electric truck will be a popular choice for fleet operators across the UK, Europe and eventually North America.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work the team at Tevva have put into this vehicle. We have reached this milestone by leveraging our years of experience designing, innovating and manufacturing dual-energy vehicles.”

One advantage of using the fuel cell as a range extender, rather than the primary source of power, is that it allows Tevva to provide smaller, cheaper and lighter fuel cells and operate these at the highest possible efficiency.

Crucially, hydrogen refuelling typically takes a similar time to diesel truck refuelling, and the dual-use of both battery electric and hydrogen energy sources futureproofs Tevva and its customers as the transition away from fossil fuels and the decarbonisation of the transport industry continues.

In 2019, for example, HGVs contributed 18 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, according to UK government figures.

Tevva’s proprietary software systems also operate battery and hydrogen fuel cells at the highest efficiencies to optimise cost-effectiveness, carbon effectiveness, resilience and refuelling convenience.

Zoe Hall, Head of Competitions and Projects, Advanced Propulsion Centre, said: “I am very proud that the technology we have supported through our collaborative research and development programme is now being put to real-world use. The launch of this truck, with its hydrogen fuel cell range extender, is an exciting outcome of the APC-funded project to completely eliminate CO2 at the tailpipe and lower the total cost of ownership compared to existing diesel vehicles. This smart zero-emission vehicle, with rare earth metal free electric motors, has the potential to make heavy goods transport sustainable.”

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