The Green Deal, Digitization, Autonomous and Assistant Systems. All of this and much more have a big influence in the development of modern road transport. Not only is pressure towards change coming from legislative institutions, but also from vehicle drivers and operators. TATRA has always followed modern trends and supplied the collective treasure trove of global automotive construction with new, unique and effective solutions.
TATRA TRUCKS announced their development of a hydrogen powered truck not too long ago. Why have you decided to go down this path? Is hydrogen the fuel of the future?
Currently, there is a large discussion within the segment of the automotive industry regarding the most suitable, future-oriented fuel source. The top contenders currently include fully battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV), fuel cell electric vehicles with hydrogen cells (FCEV) and some manufacturers are even in favor of keeping traditional combustion engines, but replacing regular gas with hydrogen.
„The advantages of this, other than the fact that we get to keep our Tatra chassis, are that the electric motor can be placed within the protected zone above the spinal carrier pipe without affecting the rigidity of the entire chassis The compatibility of this solution with a multi-stage gearbox gives us the ability to manufacture this new chassis on our current assembly line.“
In order to determine whether BEV‘s or FCEV‘s are more appropriate, we need to specify the vehicle’s operation specifications. Tatra operates within the heavy off-road vehicle segment for which FCEV seems to be a better fit. This technology powers the vehicle’s drive through electricity produced from on-board hydrogen fuel cells. This means that other than a traction electric motor, battery and fuel cells, the vehicles also have pressure tanks containing gaseous hydrogen.
One of FCEV’s big advantages is the very short refuel time it requires, as filling the pressure tanks with hydrogen only takes around 15 minutes. In the best possible scenario, BEV‘s take at least four times longer to refuel, meaning that FCEV‘s offer the end user more flexibility and business efficiency.
What is your estimate on when this new vehicle might reach regular use? Is the development of the hydrogen Tatra truck based solely in Kopřivnice, or are you collaborating with someone on this project?
The first prototype of the truck will be produced in the second half of 2023, and operational tests will take place in 2024. This is an entirely new drive technology for us, so we are collaborating with other research institutions. We are working with institutions such as ÚJV Řež, the Řež Research Center, VŠCHT Prague and Devinn Jablonec n. N.
“ We want to construct our own fuel station within our company grounds. ”
Do you also plan on developing other vehicles powered by alternative fuel sources?
We are also preparing the construction of an electric vehicle with a range extender (REx) as well as a hybrid vehicle. There is no one single universally applicable solution. One technology has an advantage in difficult terrain, where another is for operation within urban environments. For fire departments and their demands for use, and also within the army, are yet another entirely different story.