FCV Developments at Daimler and Hino and Efforts toward the Realization of a Hydrogen Society

From presentations at the 13th Automotive World Conference 2021



Although the Conference occurred during a state of emergency declared by the Japanese government, this was a new and important topic that attracted a large number of attendees.

  This report introduces the FCV (fuel cell vehicle) development efforts of Daimler and Hino presented at a Special Session at the 13th Automotive World Conference (January 20-22, 2021, at Tokyo Big Sight).


Daimler modular fuel cell engines for automotive and stationary applications

Speaker: Prof.Dr. Christian Mohrdieck, Chief Executive Officer, Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH

  The Daimler Group’s recent developments and future plans were explained in three parts: Development History; New Approach to FC Technology - Modular FC Engines; and Expansion of FC Application Areas and Daimler's Electrification Plan.


Initiatives for the Commercial Use of Fuel Cell Vehicles

Speaker: Hisaki Torisaka, Chief Officer, Advanced Technology Division, Hino Motors, Ltd.

  Hino Motors, Ltd. (Hino) has announced its Environmental Challenge 2050, in which it has positioned the reduction of CO2 emissions from trucks and buses as an important issue. In his presentation, Mr. Torisaka explained: Hino's History of Environmentally-friendly Technology Development; Future Electrification Policy; Advantages of FC in Heavy-duty Commercial Vehicles; Specific FCV Technologies; and Remaining Issues.


Related reports:
The Routes to Carbon-neutral Freight Transport (Dec. 2020)
SAE China 2020 (2): Electrification of Commercial Vehicles (Nov. 2020)
Fuel cell commercial vehicles: Toyota jointly develops FC systems with major Chinese OEMs (Aug. 2020)
Technology Trends Related to the Electrification of Heavy Vehicles (trucks and buses) (Jun. 2020)
Daimler: Priorities are to invest in electrification, curb total investment, and preserve cash (May 2020)
Smart Energy Week 2020: Electric Vehicle Related Technologies (1) (Mar. 2020)


Daimler modular fuel cell engines for automotive and stationary applications

Speaker: Prof.Dr. Christian Mohrdieck, Chief Executive Officer, Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH
(*Presentation was made via video recording)

In response to the announcement of zero-emission regulations in various regions, commercial vehicle manufacturers one after another are planning the electrification of their vehicles. (Source: Daimler)

  The Daimler Group will consolidate its fuel cell (FC) technology, which has been maturing since the 1990s, into the newly established Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG (DTFC), and unify all future development and production activities. In addition, DTFC will launch a manufacturing joint venture with the collaboration of the Volvo Group (hereinafter referred to as Volvo) and Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG, and expand the scale of production by broadening the field of application from commercial vehicles to construction equipment and stationary power generation sets.

  In conjunction with production expansion, standardized packaging and system components will be used to increase production effectiveness. The prime mover set centered on the FC stack is called the Modular Fuel Cell Engine, and is systematized into S, M, L and multiple use L.

  A prototype heavy-duty truck, called Daimler GenH2, was equipped with two units of the latest L Module. In combination with liquid hydrogen tanks, it has achieved a driving range of more than 1,000 km as well as a loading capacity and ease of use comparable to diesel vehicles. The model will be available for customer trials starting in 2023, and will be commercially available in the late 2020s.


Fuel cell development history and achievements by the Daimler Group

  The 1994 NECAR 1 passenger car was the starting point for Daimler’s development of actual FC vehicles, which was later expanded to trucks and buses in the 1990s. In addition, with the B-Class F-Cell passenger car produced in 2009, FC vehicles have been deployed around the world and have obtained much driving experience. At the same time, hydrogen refueling has been improved, and refueling in less than three minutes has been achieved. At this point, the results of the development were ready to be offered to the general public. After that, Daimler also worked on developing the FC stacks and hydrogen tanks; the overall development of the vehicle was completed, with the remaining issues being infrastructure and cost. The GLC F-Cell PHEV, launched in 2018, was able to compensate for the lack of infrastructure by using electric power from the grid, but this did not solve the cost issue.

Recent achievements in FC vehicle development by the Daimler Group (Source: Daimler)


  There were four important turning points in the transition of the corporate structure for handling FC.

1996 Formation of joint venture between Daimler Benz AG and Ballard Power Systems
1998 Participation of Ford Motor Company (Ford)
2008 Establishment of Automotive Fuel Cell Corporation (investment ratio 50.1% by Daimler, 49.9% by Ford)
2018-2020 Cancellation of the relationship with Ford and consolidation of all FC development activities in the newly established Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG

Daimler: A new approach to FC prime mover development - Modular FC engines

  For the time being, use of FCs will proceed in heavy-duty vehicles and stationary applications, but none of these applications can be expected to spread in large numbers as usage would in passenger cars. Therefore, modularized design will provide high volume cost effectiveness and by combining modules, flexibility over the range of applications can be maintained. There is a large difference in the requirements of low output applications and heavy-duty and stationary applications such as durability, response, load fluctuation ratio, and number of start-stop cycles, that cannot be covered by one type of FC set. Therefore, three types of modules, S, M, and L, have been created, and these are called Modular FC Engines. The following is a list of possible applications:

S Range extender EVs and low power stationary applications
M Typical passenger cars
L 18 to 25 ton GVW-level commercial vehicles and stationary applications; 150 kW
2 x L 40 ton GVW-level commercial vehicles, large buses; 300 kW
2 x L GenH2の外観
2xL Module installed in the GenH2 concept vehicle GenH2
The entire FC system fits into the tractor section.

(Source: Daimler)

  In this context, the commercialization of the L Module, which fits the Daimler Truck product range, is underway. As for the S and M Modules, the design of each part of the FC incorporates the following features.

  • System configuration: With modularization, common software increases. The controller board is also common.
  • Stack: The size of the stack unit should be the size applicable to the S Module; M and L stack sizes are integer multiples of the S Module stack size.
  • System components: Standard components are established and used among the S, M, and L Modules.
      - For the humidifier elements (like oil filters), one or more standard cartridges can be combined.
      - Types of hydrogen tanks are reduced as much as possible and multiple tanks can be combined (including liquid hydrogen tanks).
      - The air compressor (turbo), pressurized flow path components, and sensors are common to each module.
  • Packaging (FC engine shape): For the S Module, it should be box-shaped due to the installation space requirements, but for a vehicle application, it is better to have the shape, mounting points, intake and exhaust positions, and crash behavior that match internal combustion engines. Box-shaped packaging is also necessary for roof-mounted vehicles such as buses.
Schematic diagram of the FC system (Source: Daimler)

Expansion of FC fields of application and Daimler Truck's electrification plan

  For stationary power supply applications, FC modules can be mounted in racks and multiples of them can be installed to provide high power output. Based on this concept, there is already an example of a data center combining four GLC F-Cell FCs to provide a 180 kW backup power supply.

  The latest example of Daimler Truck's development is a concept vehicle called GenH2, which was announced last September. It was designed to be equipped with a fuel cell, and customer trials will start in 2023, with regular production set for the late 2020s. This model, equipped with a liquid hydrogen tank, has twice the driving range of the eActros LongHaul battery EV (BEV) with the same level of powertrain installation space. In addition, the GenH2 has a cargo carrying capacity and hydrogen filling time equivalent to vehicles in its class and otherwise is as capable as our customers expect of our current diesel trucks.

Daimler TruckのEVレンジ GenH2のパワートレイン
Daimler Truck's EV range. From left to right:
 eActros (BEV, driving range 200 km, to be launched in 2021)
 eActroc LongHaul (BEV, driving range 500 km, scheduled for release)
 GenH2 (FCEV, range over 1000 km, scheduled for release)
The GenH2 powertrain. Two stainless steel liquid hydrogen tanks (40 kg capacity) are mounted on each side of the vehicle, and a 70 kWh battery is placed between them. The FC engine will be mounted in the same position as an ordinary internal combustion engine.

(Source: Daimler)

  There are still three issues that need to be addressed in order to promote the use of FC commercial vehicles:

  1. Investing for further development and production
  2. Securing production volume to reduce costs to a level that is competitive with other powertrains
  3. Promoting infrastructure development based on industry's demand for such vehicles

  To solve these problems, Daimler decided to collaborate with Volvo and Rolls-Royce Power Systems and its subsidiary MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH (MTU). The latter is particularly keen to expand FC use in stationary power applications, and with the formation of this team, we at the Daimler Group have made a system to make FCs competitive in our business.

1 2 3
Building a team for an FC market development system:
1) Concentration of development activities at Daimler Trucks
2) Production of FC stacks through the joint venture with Volvo and expansion of volume for commercial vehicle and construction equipment applications 3) Collaboration with Rolls-Royce Power Systems and MTU to develop FC for stationary applications

(Source: Daimler)


Hino: Initiatives for the Commercial Use of Fuel Cell Vehicles

Speaker: Hisaki Torisaka, Chief Officer, Advanced Technology Division, Hino Motors, Ltd.

  As part of the company-wide Environmental Challenge 2050, Hino will promote the introduction of electric vehicles, improvement of internal combustion engines, and improvement of logistics efficiency as the three pillars of its efforts to become carbon neutral.

  The company sees the period between 2027 and 2030, when various regulations will come into force, as a turning point. By this time, Hino will develop a dedicated platform to replace hybrid vehicles and develop EVs (electric vehicles) and FCVs to achieve a 100% electric vehicle ratio by 2050.

  The advantages of converting heavy-duty trucks to FCVs, in addition to zero emissions, include cruising range, load capacity comparable to diesel, refueling time, reduced driver fatigue, large power supply capacity, and contribution to the expansion of hydrogen infrastructure.

  The heavy-duty fuel cell truck was jointly developed with Toyota Motor Corporation, and the preceding Profia-based model will be equipped with two FC units of the new Mirai and six gaseous hydrogen tanks; it will be used for demonstration tests by customers from around the spring of 2022. The company will also begin testing an XL-based model for North America in mid-2021.

Hino Environmental Challenge 2050 (Source: Hino Motors, Ltd.)

History of Hino's development of environmentally friendly technologies

  As a way to reduce CO2 emissions, Hino has proceeded with development with three courses of action: electrification, engine improvement, and logistics efficiency.

Hino’s development of environmentally-friendly technologies (Source: Hino Motors, Ltd.)


  Since commercial vehicles are production assets for customers, a different approach from that of passenger cars is needed to promote environmentally friendly vehicles and they must not be inferior to conventional vehicles in terms of logistics economics. With that in mind, since the 1980s, Hino has continued to take measures for environmental friendliness mainly through the improvement of internal combustion engines. The company has also been a leader in electrification, starting regular production of the world's first hybrid bus (HIMR) in 1991. In terms of EVs, PHEVs, and FCVs, Hino has a track record with the following four vehicles.

Environmentally friendly vehicles Demonstration period and driving distance Features
Small low-floor EV bus
(limited sales)
Since 2012, 9 years
220,000 km
Excellent economic efficiency and quietness during operation
EV delivery trucks
(Monitored operation)
2013 - 2014
10,000 km
Low floor for easy cargo handling and quiet operation
PHEV medium-duty bus
(limited sales)
Since 2016, 5 years
200,000 km
No need to worry about running out of electric power. Switchable between EV and HV
Large FCV transit bus
(Toyota brand)
Since 2018, 3 years
80,000 km
Excellent in quietness and smooth acceleration and deceleration

  The Sora (Toyota brand large transit bus) has 10 hydrogen tanks on the roof and two stacks of the first-generation Mirai to ensure its power performance in urban areas. About 100 units are in operation in Miyagi, Fukushima, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Hyogo, Tokushima and other areas, and the company will continue to accumulate achievements in the future.

  In the field of HVs that use internal combustion engines, Hino has succeeded in commercializing heavy-duty trucks, which had conventionally been considered disadvantageous, and for the time being will continue with them as a practical application.

(Related Reports) Tokyo Motor Show 2019: Environmental solutions of commercial vehicle manufacturers (November 2019)


Hino: Future development of electric vehicles

  The figure below shows a plot of various electric vehicles with vehicle size and driving distance as parameters. The oval in the figure shows the range in which each electric vehicle type is effective in reducing CO2 emissions.

Hino’s development of electric vehicles (Source: Hino)

  For the time being, HVs are the realistic solution to cover all applications, and they will be diffused quickly, while EVs and FCVs will be used according to customer needs.

  As for future policy with an eye to 2050, we see the period between 2027 and 2030 as a turning point, when various zero emission regulations will be fully implemented. HVs will be used to meet the needs of the market up to this time in a period of widespread expansion, but they will be replaced by electric vehicles developed with dedicated, optimized platforms, and a 100% electric vehicle ratio will be achieved by 2050 with EVs and FCVs.


Hino: Necessity and advantages of FC in heavy-duty commercial vehicles

Supplying electric power externally. However, an evaluation of the excess or shortage of power supply in the event of an actual disaster was not conducted. (Source: Hino)

  Hino has been conducting route operation tests with buses in cooperation with Toyota since 2003. The results are incorporated in Sora, but the recognized advantages of FCs based on this experience are mainly zero emissions, quietness, reduced driver fatigue, longer driving range than BEVs, easy infrastructure development since FCs can be installed on limited routes, ability to supply power in times of disaster (photo), and contribution to expanding hydrogen consumption. These are just a few examples.

  Based on the above experience, we anticipate the following items as merits for heavy-duty trucks:

  • Zero emissions
  • Ease of use compared to BEVs: Driving range of 600 km accomplished in 30 minutes of hydrogen refueling decreasing to 10 to 15 minutes in the future.
  • Load capacity comparable to diesel engine-equipped vehicles.
  • Contributing to mass transit: Power performance commensurate with high-speed driving.
  • Reduction of driver fatigue: Smooth starts, accelerations and decelerations, and quietness.
  • Large electric power supply capacity: Power supply to cargo bed, power supply in case of disaster.
  • Contribution to the expansion of hydrogen infrastructure: Large amount of hydrogen use, establishment of a wide driving area


Hino: Details of the heavy-duty FC truck under joint development with Toyota

  The truck under joint development is based on the Profia rear double-axle vehicle (GVW 25 ton) and has a target driving range of 600 km (in mixed urban/suburban modes). The FC components and their layout were designed as follows:

  • FC stacks: Two of the second-generation Mirai stacks (128 kW x 2) installed in the position of the internal combustion engine. This stack was developed from the beginning by Toyota on the premise that it would be used in commercial vehicles. Compared to the first generation, it incorporates packaging changes, increased stack density, downsized auxiliary equipment, improved durability, and avoidance (through controls) of use at extremely low loads. The system cost was reduced to 1/3 by decreasing the amount of platinum used and changing the number of cells. In addition, a small model was designed for forklift trucks, and a large model for deployability to stationary applications and ships, assuming the use of two stacks and multiple tanks.
  • Motor: E-Axle on both rear axles. (Motor is AC synchronous type)
  • Hydrogen tanks: Six 70 MPa tanks newly developed for trucks. Two of them were installed in a high position just behind the cab, and two on each side of the chassis, amidships.
  • Battery: 4 Li-ion type battery packs distributed throughout the vehicle. This vehicle is scheduled to undergo practical tests at customer sites from the spring of 2022, and the results will be used to determine the timing of regular production.

  At the same time, in North America, Toyota’s and Hino's local organizations have started joint development of a vehicle based on the XL series, and will begin testing in mid-2021 In addition, the company will gradually supply the trucks to China and Europe.

開発中のFCトラック 北米に対応するFCトレーラー
The FC truck is being developed based on the Profia. The system has been finished to a level where it can be tested for practical use, and will be put into such operation in the spring of 2022. FC semi-tractor for North America based on the XL series. It is a cab-behind-engine style to meet local market preferences.

(Source: Hino)


Hino: Remaining issues

  In order to promote the use of FC trucks, costs commensurate with diesel-engine equipped vehicles are essential. According to Hino's calculations of TCO (total cost of ownership) over the first five years after the purchase of a new vehicle, i.e., {new vehicle purchase price - subsidy} + {cost of fuel used, highway tolls, repairs and maintenance costs and other sundry expenses}, if the price of hydrogen gradually decreases from the current JPY 100 / Nm3 (normal cubic meter) to JPY 20, combined with a decline in vehicle prices, a cost below that of diesel vehicles would result around 2030. However, if the price of hydrogen falls only to about JPY 50 by 2030, the TCO will not reach diesel levels. Therefore, the scenario for the spread of the technology will vary depending on whether or not there is support besides corporate efforts, such as subsidies and highway tolls.

  The next issue is the refueling time. This greatly affects the vehicle utilization rate. Refueling time is about 30 minutes for FCs with the current filling equipment used in buses, compared to 5 to 10 minutes for diesel vehicles. Although the new standard refueling facilities overseas can shorten the time to 10-15 minutes, the plan for the introduction of such facilities in Japan, including the timing and verification details, is still unclear.

  A hydrogen society cannot be formed by truck manufacturers alone; it must be accompanied by improvements in hydrogen prices and refueling infrastructure.

FC truck issues (Source: Hino)

Daimler, Hino, Commercial Vehicle, FCV, Fuel Cell, Electric

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