The storage and transportation of hydrogen are fairly complicated matters. What is your strategy for fuel logistics?

The European parliament approved a bill that requires EU countries to construct hydrogen fuel stations every 100 km on main roads by 2028. We also want to construct our own fuel station within our company grounds. Until all of this is complete, we will be making use of mobile fuel stations.

You say that this new technology will make it easy to work in extreme conditions and access difficult areas, such as forests. And with this access, it will be able to withstand high levels of dust and harsh climates. Did you have to adapt the vehicle concept to hydrogen power, or did you mostly base it off of previous Tatra models?

The basis of our design philosophy in developing the hydrogen Tatra is maintaining TATRA-MOBILITY, that is, keeping our chassis design. A commonly available electric motor is connected to the downshift gearbox through a connective shaft. 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.

 Vehicles are now essentially becoming mobile computers. 

As far as dustiness and extreme climate conditions are concerned, this is the main reason why we are creating this prototype - solving issues with air intakes for fuel cells, starting the vehicle at low ambient temperatures or general operation in freezing conditions. These will be the subjects of our consortium solution as well as the subjects of rigorous tests.

As a final question, I would like to ask something a bit more hypothetical. How do you think the automotive world will develop?

Vehicles are now essentially becoming mobile computers full of electronics that make their operation easy and increase the safety of their operators. Due to environmental concerns and pressure,
I believe that it is almost certain that consumer passenger vehicles will follow the path of electric power. When it comes to cargo vehicles, however, I do not think the path is as clear. Personally, I would not discount the possible future use of hydrogen or synthetic fuel combustion engines. There are still multiple options of how to deal with carbon neutrality while maintaining the current standard of user-friendliness.

Mr Smolka, thank youfor the interview.

Text: redakce 

Foto: archiv TATRA TRUCKS a.s.