Volvo has followed MAN in announcing it will introduce trucks powered by internal combustion engines running on green hydrogen. With the changes to the EU carbon reduction regulations permitting hydrogen-combustion vehicles, these trucks are expected to play a crucial role in reducing carbon emissions, particularly over long distances and in regions where charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is limited.

Volvo plans to begin customer tests of Hydrogen combustion engine trucks in 2026, with a commercial launch targeted for the end of the decade. Currently, lab and vehicle testing is already underway. These hydrogen trucks will complement Volvo’s existing range of alternatives, which includes battery electric, Fuel Cell, and trucks powered by renewable fuels such as biogas and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

“Trucks with traditional internal combustion engines running on hydrogen will maintain the performance and reliability of our diesel trucks while offering the potential for Net Zero co2 emissions well-to-wheel. They will be a valuable addition to our battery electric trucks, which have been available for several years,” said Jan Hjelmgren, Head of Product Management and Quality at Volvo Trucks.

Volvo’s hydrogen combustion engine trucks are categorised as “Zero Emission Vehicles” (ZEV) under the new EU CO2 emission standards when using renewable HVO as an ignition fuel. Hjelmgren emphasised the need for multiple technologies to decarbonise heavy transport, highlighting that customers should have options based on their specific transport needs, available infrastructure, and green energy prices.

These hydrogen-powered trucks will feature High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology, which involves injecting a small amount of ignition fuel at high pressure to enable compression ignition before adding hydrogen. This technology offers advantages such as higher energy efficiency, lower fuel consumption, and increased engine power, says Volvo.

Volvo Group has partnered with Westport Fuel Systems to establish a joint venture focused on utilizing HPDI technology. The joint venture is expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2024.

Operational Range: Hydrogen-powered Volvo trucks will have a range comparable to many diesel trucks, depending on the type of transport.

Emission Standards: Due to low CO2 emissions from hydrogen combustion, these trucks are classified as “Zero Emission Vehicles” under new EU CO2 emission standards.

Emissions:Hydrogen combustion engines emit very small amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulates.

Alternative Use: Hydrogen can also power fuel cell electric trucks, which produce electricity on board and emit only water vapor.