UPS Calls BS on Musk's Semi Truck, Tests Hydrogen Fuel Cell Truck in California

UPS fuel cell delivery truck 1 photo
Photo: UPS
It looks like the whole world has accepted the idea that electricity is a viable option for making passenger cars go forward and has now switched focus to more serious stuff like the heavy duty vehicles.
And, guess what, Mr. Elon Musk is at the forefront of things over here as well. It's been less than a year since the first time he's pronounced the word "semi," and Tesla is already on the verge of presenting a functional battery-powered semi truck prototype in September.

However, not everyone is so certain that it will work. Covering long distances in a heavy vehicle that's also hauling a significant load sounds like it might be too much for the current battery technology to handle. And if they were to fast-charge them after a couple of hundreds of miles, the sheer size of the battery packs meant it would just take too long.

Others - like Nikola, for example - believe that the hydrogen fuel cell is the answer to zero tailpipe emissions for long-range haulers. An onboard power generator running on liquid hydrogen could feed the battery pack on the go whenever necessary, while the usual plug-in charging would cover the shorter distances.

UPS appears to side with Nikola on this one as it introduced a Class 6 medium-duty delivery truck that uses precisely this setup for its drivetrain. It uses a 45 kWh battery pack that can be recharged from the grid, but also houses a 32-kilowatt fuel cell and a ten-kilogram liquid hydrogen tank. This system allows the UPS prototype truck to travel a combined maximum distance of 125 miles (around 200 km).

The challenge we face with fuel-cell technology," Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president global engineering and sustainability told Green Car Reports, "is to ensure the design can meet the unique operational demands of our delivery vehicles on a commercial scale."

The trucks will first see service in Sacramento, California, due to the availability of public hydrogen stations there. The program should last between July and September this year, so if you live in the area and your delivery is late, you can bet there's a UPS driver somewhere out on the road waiting for his hydrogen refill to arrive.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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