Hydrogen vs. Electric And The Trucking Industry

The ACT Expo
Banner outside the annual ACT expo
Tesla Plug on Vehicle

The Advanced Clean Transportation Expo, which is held yearly in California, brought with it heated arguments, panel presentations and plenty of innovation. The expo had speakers, booths, awards, and testimonials. The key themes for this year were urban mobility, goods movement, connected fleet, gaseous fuels, commercial evs and vehicle efficiency. Urban mobility focused on the fleets that are operated on a daily basis like school buses, delivery vans and more. Goods movement is, of course, heavy and medium duty fleets. The breakout star of the expo however, was the debate between hydrogen and electric trucks.

During the vehicle efficiency segment, keynote speakers drew their focus to the new innovations in fuel.  The first being hydrogen heavy duty trucks, which are headlining the “Shore to Store” project. The project will deploy 10 Kenworth Toyota hydrogen-electric trucks with zero emissions. Some of the benefits of hydrogen include the range, which is said to be longer than battery electric trucks and the time to fuel up being equal to that of a diesel truck. Electric trucks, adversely, take a substantially longer time to charge. Both types of trucks are innovative in their own way and will make a major impact on the industry as a whole. FreightHub is excited to see comes next and how we can integrate our tech-enhanced processes and equipment with these new innovations.

Hydrogen Trucks

Chris Cannon, the director of environmental management for the Port of Los Angeles announced the use of primarily hydrogen electric trucks early in the conference. He later changed his tone and noted that they are “fuel neutral”, although they seem to be favoring hydrogen at the moment. He stated they were open to testing both technologies. Nikola Motor CEO, Trevor Milton noted that 80% of their sales are for hydrogen. Their hydrogen-electric semi-trucks were released just a few weeks ago. Some benefits of hydrogen include:

  • No change in fueling behavior
  • Fast refueling times
  • Longer range
  • Better cold weather performance
Battery Electric Trucks
A Tesla charger on the wall

Battery electric, on the other hand, will eliminate the need for fuel altogether. The cost of a battery electric vehicle is considerably lower than a hydrogen vehicle. They are the preferred vehicle for shorter hauls, however. Investments for electric are more forthcoming as opposed to hydrogen at the moment. Ford recently announced it would be investing $500 million into electric trucks being made by Rivian. Volvo also announced its plans to introduce all-electric trucks at their event booth.

Who will win?

Many argue that the winner between hydrogen and electric will come down to the most cost effective solution. Currently, it looks like that may be electric vehicles, who require you to simply plug in, while hydrogen requires you to purchase fuel (at $6 per gallon). Electric will also lead to a “cleaner grid” that will rely more on renewable sources of energy. While friendly competition can lead to massive innovation, it can also take attention away from the primary goal which in this case is getting to zero emissions. After all, emissions are what these tech based products are made to battle.

For more information, follow us each week for the 3PL Industry news or contact Freight Hub here.

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