An electric truck outfitted with a hydrogen fuel cell–powered range extender will be introduced on an experimental basis by a partnership of Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste), according to recent reports.
The range-extended Maxity Electric will represent the first such vehicle put into use in Europe — with the unit being tested under actual operating conditions for a full year in the French city of Dole — which will presumably give the company a good understanding of the possibilities of such a technology.
As it stands, the French Post Office actually owns the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the world, so this experimental pilot is simply building on that.
The new vehicles have been outfitted by Renault Trucks with a 20 kW hydrogen fuel cell; plus two hydrogen tanks (75-liter capacity each) — thereby making it possible to carry “4 kg of H2 at 350 bar.” The vehicles were developed in partnership with Symbio FCell.
“The truck is driven by a 400V, 47 kW asynchronous electric motors [sic] with 270 N·m (199 lb-ft) of torque; maximum speed is 90 km/h (56 mph). The truck is equipped with four Valence Technology Li-ion battery packs, weighing a total of 400 kg (882 lbs) and providing 42 kWh capacity.”
The project supervisor for the pilot, Christophe Vacquier, commented: “When the vehicle is running, the electric motor is fed by two complementary energy sources; the fuel cell is capable of delivering a maximum power of 20 kW and, once that threshold has been reached, the batteries kick in to supply whatever power is still required. When idle, the fuel cell is available to recharge the battery as needed.”
Interestingly, the heat released by the fuel cell is actually used to warm up the passenger compartment — thereby avoiding use of the batteries for heating needs.
The vehicles will, of course, be used by the Post Office on mail + package collection routes.
Renault Trucks’ Director of Energy Efficiency Strategy, Karine Forien, commented: “200 kilometers of autonomy make it the ideal choice for a daily schedule of urban and suburban routes. Our purpose behind this project is to support European metropolitan areas in their goal of limiting air and noise pollution emissions, through testing innovative vehicles that produce zero emissions and that in the near term should become economically viable for our customers.”
Image Credit: Renault Trucks