Volkswagen subsidiary, Traton SE, also known as Traton Group, is aiming for 50% of its long-haul trucks to be zero-emission by 2030, “provided the corresponding regulatory mechanisms and infrastructure are in place”, according to a press release.
The company, which owns prominent truck and bus brands such as Scania, Man, and Navistar, has announced €2.6 billion investment in electric mobility research and development by 2026 to support its commercial objectives.
Speaking to the press, Christian Levin, CEO of the Traton Group, noted “together with its brands, the TRATON GROUP will assume a leading role in sustainable transportation. This is why we have consistently aligned our planning for the next five years to focus on battery electric drives [… and why] we should focus on creating the infrastructure we so urgently need. Establishing the fast-charging network for passenger cars also offers a unique opportunity for synergies.”
In late 2021, the Traton Group and its competitors Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group entered a binding joint venture to install and operate at least 1,700 high-performance public charging networks for battery electric, heavy-duty long-haul trucks and coaches across Europe within five years.
The creation of the 500 million Euro joint venture is subject to antitrust approvals.
Promisingly, as of March 2022, the European Commission has launched a consultation on the potential relative and qualified relaxation of competition rules in situations where horizontal agreements, such as joint ventures between competitors, pursue a sustainability objective. The UK Competition and Markets Authority has also indicated its openness to recognise sustainability as a public interest consideration when performing analysis under the merges and market regime.
EV charging infrastructure investments aside, the joint-venture partners differ on the question of battery-electric trucks versus hydrogen trucks.
Daimler Truck, for one, is pursuing a dual track strategy to the electrification of its portfolio by investing and researching in both battery-electric and hydrogen drives. Indeed, the company notes that whilst energy-efficiency is higher with battery-electric drives, hydrogen-based trucks can be the better solution for demanding transport tasks that require greater range and flexibility.
Moreover, clear signals of the creation of a hydrogen-based energy system from governments around the world has led experts to expect that hundreds of billions of euros will be invested in hydrogen production, transport, and infrastructure; a market presumably too large for Daimler Truck to ignore.
Conversely, Traton has decided to focus on battery-electric drive systems, with Catharina Modahl-Nilsson, Chief Technical Officer of TRATON GROUP, stating that “in truck traffic, especially on long-distance routes, pure e-trucks will in most cases be the cheaper and more environmentally friendly solution. This is because hydrogen trucks have a decisive disadvantage: only about a quarter of the output energy flows into the drive, three quarters is lost through conversion losses. With the e-truck, the ratio is reversed.”
What do you think of the hydrogen versus electric drive debate? What measures are needed at the sub-national, national, or European level to promote the widespread adoption of electric or hydrogen powered trucks? Should competition law be relaxed for the sake of sustainability agreements? Let us know in the comments or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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