General Motors is set to team up with US truck maker Autocar Industries to develop a range of hydrogen fuel cell-powered heavy-duty vocational trucks.
Autocar is the second truck maker to work with GM on hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles.
GM is also working with the US-based Traton-subsidiary, Navistar on using its Hydrotec power cubes for a hydrogen fuel cell version of Navistar’s International RH Series.
Production of the first vehicles in the GM-Autocar partnership is expected to start in 2026 at the Autocar’s manufacturing facility in Birmingham, Alabama.
The trucks with Hydrotec technology will be built-to-order by Autocar and sold directly to customers, the companies indicated.
Autocar currently offers four models — the ACX cabover severe duty truck, the ACTT terminal tractor, the DC-64 conventional severe duty truck and the ACMDmedium- and heavy-duty cabover.
Autocar says that hydrogen fuel cell-powered cement mixers, roll-off and dump trucks, which all share a common architecture, will be built first, followed by refuse trucks and terminal tractors, they added.
“Autocar provides customised vocational trucking solutions, and as regulations change, we see Hydrotec fuel cells as an additional avenue for our customers to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements with zero tailpipe emissions vehicles,” said Eric Schwartz, Autocar president.
GM’s Hydrotec cube comprises 300 individual hydrogen fuel cells, with the current generation able to produce 77 kW of net power. Multiple power cubes can be arrayed in a vehicle for even higher power ratings.
The fuel cells are lightweight and enable large payloads, allowing for excellent range, quiet operation and rapid refueling, it said.
“EV propulsion systems like GM’s Ultium Platform are great solutions for electrifying passenger vehicles, but 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,” said Charlie Freese, GM executive director, Global Hydrotec.
The power cubes will be produced by GM at its facility at Brownstown, in Michigan.
GM’s first commercial vehicle partnership for its Hydrotec system was inked with Navistar in 2021 and involves the RH Series fuel cell semi. Navistar expects the prime mover to have a range in excess of 800 km and a refueling time of less than 15 minutes.
When announced, the prime mover was expected to begin pilot trials at the end of 2022 and make production models commercially available for model year 2024. GM and Navistar were unable to provide an update on when production would begin.