UK zero-emission, hydrogen-fuel cell commercial vehicle start up, Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS), has revealed its plans to disrupt the heavy haulage industry in the UK and Europe, as it unveiled its clean-sheet-designed hydrogen-electric Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV).

Showcasing its  hydrogen powertrain in the form of a 40-tonne HGV technology demonstrator the company says underlines its objective of being the first indigenous UK designed and developed hydrogen-electric HGV on the market.

Founded in 2017, at Glasgow in Scotland, HVS focuses on the ground-up design and development of zero-emission hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, with the company comprises industry specialists, which it says have vast experience in the automotive, energy, hydrogen technology, power electronics, sustainability and environmental management fields.

UK  government targets to curtail sales  of all non-zero emission 3.5 -26t HGVs  come into play by 2035 or earlier, and all sales of new non-zero emission HGVs by 2040, and HVS says its  technology has the potential to play a crucial role in allowing emissions reduction targets to be achieved.

The company also says it  has a defined route to market and in addition to funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Innovate UK, Scottish Enterprise and Energy Technology Partnership, HVS says its strategic investment partner is the service station and grocery corporation, EG Group, offering hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, fleet customer base and the potential for global scalability.  EG Group interestingly has a network of former Woolworths service station/cvonvenience stores in Australia, which are co branded with Ampol.

The  CEO of HVS Jawad Khursheed said the company is delighted to reveal its 40-tonne HGV prime mover at the Commercial Vehicle Show in the UK.

“This technology demonstrator showcases our ground-breaking hydrogen-electric commercial vehicle design and advanced powertrain technology. Our zero-emission trucks are a key part of decarbonising the logistics sector,” said Khursheed.

“Hydrogen is the perfect fuel for the haulage industry, offering long ranges and quick refuelling thanks to stations being easily integrated into existing key transport networks,”he added.

“What’s more, we will supply our customers with the most advanced HGV in the sector delivering a step change in driving experience and efficiency,” he said.

HVS’ prime movers will be built on an all-new chassis, designed in-house around its hydrogen powertrain, which consists of pressurised hydrogen cylinders, fuel cells, an energy storage system and electrified rear axle.

The futuristic HVS prime mover  was designed in-house by HVS’ head of design Pete Clarke, who has a wealth of experience designing commercial vehicles. The unique ground-up design according to HVS brings innovation in packaging, performance, efficiency, weight, range, consumption, maintenance, and lifecycle benefits. The technology demonstrator’s unique design also allows significantly improved aerodynamics compared with current Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) trucks the company claims.

It says that consequent benefits include enhanced fuel efficiency on long-haul runs and improved spatial ergonomics within the cab, including better access and more room at the controls, not to mention sector-leading aesthetics.

“Driver comfort is taken care of, and stress levels are reduced, all contributing to a safer and more efficient operational experience. Confidence-inspiring too, since the driver will be well aware that they are abreast of the latest technology,” HVS claims.

HVS says its vehicle powertrain employs a fuel cell system and energy storage system to deploy electricity to an electric motor to transmit power to the wheels. It uses a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) to recapture energy under braking and while the truck is slowing down.

The integrated powertrain is controlled with HVS’   ‘SEMAS’ control system, which monitors interactions between drivers and control systems, delivering class-leading fuel efficiency and durability.

The company says its fuel cell permits longer range, higher load-carrying capacity, and faster refuelling than would be possible using battery-electric technology alone: typical refuelling time is comparable to diesel, around 20 minutes to replenish the high pressure hydrogen tanks. It is in the long-distance HGV segment that hydrogen fuel cells offer the most advantages.

The only emission from the vehicle is water vapour, meaning there are no harmful greenhouse gas emissions of any kind.

Depending on the journey – the route travelled, road conditions and driving style – HVS’ HGV has the capacity to travel up to 370 miles (600km).

Hydrogen-powered vehicles don’t need charging like a battery-powered Electric Vehicle. They are refuelled with hydrogen gas, stored at pressure in hydrogen cylinders. Refuelling takes a much shorter time than charging an equivalent battery vehicle and is comparable to filling a truck with diesel (about 15 to 20 minutes). Many hydrogen fuelling stations will be located at existing commercial vehicle forecourts, using dispensers that look very similar to conventional petrol and diesel ones, but with a different nozzle.

HVS is Headquartered in Glasgow, and is undertaking development work at various UK research and testing sites including Horiba MIRA, Nuneaton, Warwickshire. HVS envisages that it will open an R&D, engineering and pilot production facility alongside a permanent UK-based production facility.

It has a workforce of around 600 employees is predicted across all key disciplines, with many recruits coming from the automotive and aerospace industries. It’s likely that a further 10,000 workers will be involved in the UK supply chain, boosting the skills base.

Other variants of the hydrogen-fuelled 4×2 HGV prime mover, including a left-hand drive variant, are also in the pipeline.