Not everyone is excited about the auto industry’s move toward electrification. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) still tend to cost much more than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, have a limited range and still struggle to find their way in areas with limited fast charging infrastructure.
But currently there is no larger electric vehicle (EV) segment than the electric pickup market. Companies like Ford (F-150 Lightning), GM (GMC Hummer EV pickup, Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV), Rivian (R1T) and Tesla (Cybertruck) are ready to offer customers their version of the ultimate electric pickup. offer up. And while they’re innovative, not many people are excited about the challenges of being one of the first to own one of these pickups.
For pickup owners who use their pickups for towing, BEV pickups have shown disappointing promise.
While the trucks have demonstrated excellent towing skills, battery pack performance remains a letdown thanks to the instantaneous torque of their e-motors. The trucks shown on various towing reviews continue to show about a 50% loss of range while towing. This means that if you are someone who likes to take their family on a camping trip across the country, tow a boat to their summer cottage, or need to use their truck as a work truck to tow equipment, you will face even more challenges in the future.
But rather than putting all the eggs in one basket, Stellantis has focused on offering alternatives to electrification. The company recently launched in Europe a new range of medium-sized light commercial vehicles (LCV) powered by a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and electric battery technology in a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).
The FCEV vans are designed as a solution that provides a range of more than 400 kilometers with a refueling time of only 3 minutes. Hydrogen proves the energy needed for extended driving range, while a mid-capacity battery provides the power for dynamic performance alongside energy recovery and plug-in capabilities.
During his Dare Forward 2030 presentation, Stellantis said it is pursuing a hydrogen-powered version of its next-gen Ram Heavy Duty pickup for production. Such a vehicle would allay customers’ towing range fears while continuing to move the vehicle towards a friendlier zero-emissions target.
In a previous article, we discussed that Cummins Inc. had announced it was going to produce a hydrogen version of its popular B6.7 engine. The B6.7 engine forms the basis for the ever-popular 6.7-litre Cummins I-6 turbo diesel found under the hood of the current Ram 2500/3500/4500/5500 Heavy Duty truck range. This makes this new hydrogen engine an excellent candidate for the next generation of Ram Heavy Duty.
In recent weeks, Cummins has been teasing the new B6.7H for its medium- and heavy-duty engine offerings. In a video, Cummins showed how it can convert a medium-duty van to run on carbon-free hydrogen fuel, powered by the new B6.7H hydrogen internal combustion engine (H2-ICE) without sacrificing performance, payload or payload. Promising for those interested in a future Ram Heavy Duty truck.
The H2-ICE proof-of-concept was unveiled at the IAA expo 2022 in Germany, where it attracted a lot of attention. The H2-ICE had a high capacity 700 bar hydrogen storage system, giving the vehicle a range of 500 kilometers.
The B6.7H provided a seamless replacement for a diesel engine, as the 6.7-liter hydrogen engine is rated at 290 hp (216 kW) and 886 lb.-ft. (1,200 Nm) of torque in its medium-duty truck configuration. The B6.7H easily integrated with existing diesel powertrain components, highlighting H2-ICE’s ability to provide a carbon-free solution at a lower cost than most BEVs.
While BEVs are still powered by energy from fossil fuels, carbon-free hydrogen fuel can be produced by electrolysis using electricity from, say, solar panels or wind turbines, generating CO2-free driving. In addition, hydrogen fuels do not emit particulate matter, carbon monoxide or volatile organic compounds.
However, hydrogen engines have the potential to release some NOx, an atmospheric pollutant that can contribute to the haze sometimes seen over major cities during the summer months. Aftertreatment systems are used to eliminate most NOx emissions, similar to what is used in most modern diesel engines.
According to Cummins, if the US converted its medium- and heavy-duty trucks to clean hydrogen, about 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector would be eliminated.
Most hydrogen engines built today are based on modern and reliable diesel or natural gas ICE engines. It is a trusted technology for vehicle manufacturers to use in their vehicle design and manufacturing processes. Likewise, it is a trusted technology for fleets to operate, maintain, troubleshoot and maintain.
A modern ICE designed to run on hydrogen could have similar components to many of the diesel ICE engines we are used to today. Parts such as the engine block, crankshaft and installation parts such as brackets and flywheel housings are all interchangeable.
So we’re willing to bet that a hydrogen-powered Cummins Ram Heavy Duty will go into production sometime in 2027.
There is only one problem with hydrogen: limited access. California has continued to operate publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations over the past two decades. While most other states have stations that are privately operated for fleet, bus and train companies. You can visit H2stations.org to see if there is one near you.
If BEVs fail to meet expectations in North America, hopefully hydrogen can take over.