DHL & StreetScooter Trial Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Delivery Vans

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Elon Musk can call them “fool cells.” Physicists can explain why using renewable energy to make hydrogen to power fuel cells is a foolish waste of precious resources. Environmentalists can rail about the damage done to the Earth to produce the natural gas most countries use to create hydrogen. But it makes no difference. The hydrogen fuel cell appears to be part of our future whether we want it or not.

DHL fuel cell panel van
Credit: DHL

DHL and StreetScooter have been pioneers in creating zero emissions delivery vans. Originally intended for DHL’s own use, the StreetScooter concept has proven so popular, a second factory is under construction to service the demands of third party customers.

As good as the StreetScooter electric vans are, they suffer from one significant drawback — a lack of adequate range for longer routes. That’s where the latest DHL/StreetScooter innovation comes into play. Called the H2 Panel Van, it uses a hydrogen fuel cell to power a 4.5-ton delivery vehicle with up to 500 kilometers of range.

Fabian Schmitt, CTO for StreetScooter, says the H2 has potential as a breakthrough solution. “We firmly believe that fuel cells will play an increasing role in electric-powered transport, since they can give battery electric vehicles the kind of range that is so important for so many customers. With the Panel Van, StreetScooter begins yet another chapter in its proud history of innovation and enters into a new growth phase.”

The H2 is based on the StreetScooter Work XL. It has a capacity of 10 cubic meters (approx. 100 Express parcels) and a maximum payload of over 800 kg. With a maximum weight of 4.5 tons, it can be driven by people with ordinary European drivers licenses. No CDL required.

Markus Reckling, CEO of DHL Express Germany, says the new van fits into the Group’s larger environmental goals. “With the H2 Panel Van, DHL Express becomes the first express provider to use a larger number of electric vehicles with fuel cells for last-mile logistics. This underscores our aspiration to be not only the fastest and most reliable provider on the market, but also the most climate friendly. The H2 Panel Van is another example of how Deutsche Post DHL Group is working towards its zero-emission goal for 2050.”

For those who snicker at fuel cells, forget it. They’re part of decarbonizing the transportation sector, apparently, so embrace them. You don’t have to love ’em for them to be an important part of lowering vehicle emissions.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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