Honda debuting Class 8 hydrogen fuel-cell truck concept at ACT Expo

There are good applications for Class 8 tractors powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Hyundai's got one of them going at the Port of Oakland, its Xcient FCEV doing drayage runs in and around the port and able to refuel at a station built for the port. The automaker also plans to use the Xcient in Georgia, transporting goods from the Port of Savannah to its coming factory, the truck able to refuel at the plant. Honda plans to insert itself into the hydrogen-powered tractor-trailer conversation with its new concept truck debuting at this week's Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Las Vegas.

The concept truck is interesting for a couple of reasons, the first being that the fuel cell in the tractor is the same one in the Honda CR-V e:FCEV. Honda developed the cells with GM, they're built in a plant in Brownstown, Michigan the automakers jointly own. The truck uses three of the fuel cell systems, each producing 80 kilowatts, for 240 kW in total, or 322 horsepower. That isn't the vital figure here. The fuel cells charge a 120-kilowatt-hour battery; fuel cells don't like uneven discharge rates, so they run at a steady state to charge the battery, and the battery deals with the fluctuating needs of the electric motors. Honda didn't provide output figures for the motors, though, nor say how many motors the truck uses. The fuel cells are fed by a tank holding 181 pounds of hydrogen at about 10,000 PSI, good for an estimated 400 miles of range when at a fully loaded weight of just over 82,000 pounds. Of that loaded weight, the tractor accounts for about 28,500 pounds, leaving nearly 53,000 pounds for the trailer and cargo weight. That's about in line with the Tesla Semi, both trucks used for intraday runs, not long-haul over-the-road trucking. Top speed is 70 miles per hour.

The second interesting aspect is that Honda doesn't sell Class 8 trucks in the U.S. market; should this one come to production, it would be the first. The company admits it is "actively seeking business collaborations and customers to help bring these hydrogen fuel cell solutions to market here in North America," the lure being huge fuel savings. The timing of the fuel savings would depend on who has to pay for the hydrogen infrastructure, though. Honda's plan is to penetrate four markets with the fuel cells system: Light-duty vehicles, commercial vehicles, construction equipment and stationary power stations. On the construction note, Honda will also be showing its Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV), an autonomous or remote-controlled battery-electric cart that can carry up to 880 pounds, designed to perform repetitive tasks at worksites. Honda will use its ACT Expo show stand to promote the strategy laid out early this year, to "expand its hydrogen business and achieve its global goal of zero environmental impact, including carbon neutrality for all products and corporate activities by 2050."

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