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Cummins, Navistar developing fuel cell truck for Werner testing

DOE money will fund engine maker’s work with truck maker

Thad Ewald, vice president of corporate strategy at Cummins Inc. with the company's prototype Class 8 fuel cell truck at the North American Commercial Vehicle show in October 2019. (Photo: FreightWaves/Alan Adler)

Engine maker Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) is using grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a Class 8 fuel cell truck with longtime customer Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV).

It is Navistar’s first foray into hydrogen-powered fuel cells. The zero-emissions technology is gaining traction as an alternative to diesel. 

Next-generation fuel cell configuration

Cummins showed a demonstration Class 8 fuel cell at the North American Commercial Vehicle show in October 2019.

The Navistar truck will be tested by Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN). The project is partially funded through an award Cummins announced in August from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“This vehicle will feature our next-generation fuel cell configuration and provides a springboard for us to advance our hydrogen technology for line haul trucks,” said Amy Davis, president of Cummins’ business segment.  

The DOE awarded Cummins more than $7 million in two grants to speed development of heavy-duty fuel cell trucks. Objectives include a 300-mile driving range between refuelings with better fuel economy than today’s diesel-powered trucks.

The powertrain will be integrated into an International RH Series, using two HyPM HD90 power modules. Each is made up of HD45 fuel cell stacks connected in a series that can be turned on or off depending on how much power is needed. 

“Hydrogen offers great opportunity in the commercial vehicle sector, and we’re proud to be part of the team working to develop a complete solution for customers,” said Darren Gosbee, Navistar vice president of engineering.

Werner Enterprises gets test truck

The prototype fuel cell class 8 truck will be integrated into Werner Enterprises’ fleet of more than 7,700 tractors. It will be tested for a year in real-world local and regional delivery operations out of Fontana, California.

“This integration aligns with our Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives as we continually look for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Scott Reed, Werner senior vice president of fleet purchasing and maintenance. 

Werner wants to gain a full picture of how fuel cells perform over challenging road conditions in hot and cold climates, Reed said. It also wants to develop a total-cost-of-ownership analysis.

The DOE wants its award money to be used to meet or exceed conventional diesel powertrain performance requirements and reduce the upfront capital costs by 35% to make zero-emissions fuel cell technologies viable for commercial fleets.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

One Comment

  1. Stephen Webster

    We need to look at both hydrogen and natural gas powered trucks and reefer units. We need to consider the cost of batteries both in money and to the environment. We need more charging plugs for reefer units at shippers and receiving and overnight parking to reduce greenhouse gases. This is needed in all major cities and all new D C being built or expansion planned.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.