Earlier this week, Will Shiers, editor of our sister publication Commercial Motor, traveled to Germany to get a closer look at the latest addition to the Quantron vehicle line-up.
Like the prototype shown at last year’s IAA Transportation Show, this version features a modified MAN TGX cab. However, by redesigning some of the front panels and giving the truck a pronounced aerodynamic nose, Quantron’s design team claim to have reduced drag by 20%, so increasing range by 10%. This means a 4x2 variant, running at 40 tonnes, can cover 700km on one fill of hydrogen. Meanwhile a range-extended Scandinavia version, which will initially be sold in Norway, has a range of 1,500km.
The long-distance truck features a pair of 120KW fuel cells, provided by Ballard Power, and a 124kW battery. Packed neatly on the chassis are a pair of tanks, which together carry 54kg of hydrogen. The tank pressure is 700 bar, and it takes 40 minutes to refill with hydrogen. Quantron claims its QHM FCEV Aero is the only fuel cell truck on the market to have its tanks integrated into the frame structure, so leaving the back wall of the cab free from obstructions - although HVS may have something to say about that. The lack of a “backpack”, allows it to couple to standard length trailers without any restrictions.
Explaining why Quantron is able to package the components so neatly, when some rivals seem incapable of doing so, CTO Rene-Christopher Wollmann, said: “The most important thing is you need to look at all of the components at the very start. We had a very smart process of designing components. We started with the tanks, and decided they needed to be on the frame, and then we designed the batteries around the tanks. And we decided we needed fuel cells that fitted in exactly the same envelope as the combustion engine.
“If however you already had the battery, tanks and fuel cell, then maybe your would discover that they don’t fit where they should fit.”
We had an extremely brief drive in a solo tractor unit in a car park at the company’s Augsburg, Germany, head office. Inside, other than a Quantron badge on the steering wheel and a push-button gear selection, it looks and feels like a regular MAN TGX. However, the cab is one of the few components to be carried over from the donor vehicle. The other key ones being the chassis, front axle and braking components.
The two minutes behind the wheel didn’t reveal much more than it being extremely quiet, with incredibly rapid acceleration. The demo driver who was sat in the passenger seat revealed that it produces 46,000Nm of torque, as we accidentally wheel-spun after little more than feathering the accelerator. “This is a prototype, and when it goes into production that won’t happen,” he said.
The Quantron QHM FCEV Aero goes on sale in the third quarter of 2023, but despite receiving interest from UK hauliers, there are currently no plans to produce a right-hand version.