GM Launches FCEV Commercial Vehicle Lab

General Motors is establishing a hydrogen fuel-cell project for medium-duty commercial vehicles with federal government funding.

David Kiley, Senior Editor

March 7, 2024

2 Min Read
Using federal funds promoting hydrogen, GM is setting up a lab for medium-duty commercial vehicles powered by its Hydrotec fuel cells.

General Motors says it is establishing a new hydrogen-based worksite ecosystem centered on its fleet of medium-duty fuel-cell trucks. The program is meant to demonstrate real-world applications of fuel cells for fleet and commercial customers.

The pilot program funded by the Department of Energy also targets the creation of so-called green hydrogen through electrolysis for rapid refueling.

The federal government, by way of the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is spending $8 billion to create hydrogen production and distribution hubs to facilitate and encourage the transition from diesel-powered heavy trucks and gasoline-powered commercial vehicles. In total there is more than $60 billion from industry going into hydrogen production, distribution and utilization, especially production of fuel-cell powered green hydrogen from clean, sustainable sources such as solar and wind.

Built on a frame similar to the ’24 Chevrolet Silverado 5500 MD, these field evaluation fleet trucks will be powered by GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell systems. The prototype trucks are expected to have a GM-estimated range greater than 300 miles  (483 km) and a 19,500-lb. (8,845-kg) gross vehicle weight rating. The trucks operate in a native 800V architecture and peak power production exceeds 300kW. 

Southern Co., one of the largest utility companies in the U.S., will receive Hydrotec fuel-cell-powered medium-duty trucks to be used as shop vehicles at its worksites. Southern, together with GM and Nel ASA, will also demonstrate an integrated hydrogen microgrid for fueling infrastructure, including a stationary fuel-cell-based mobile power generator. Nel, a world-leading electrolyzer company, will provide the project with its advanced PEM electrolyzers, which can help create green hydrogen onsite. 

“These trucks and their accompanying hydrogen infrastructure can help enable a zero-emissions solution for HD and MD truck customers looking to meet their clean energy goals as well as reduce their operational noise and carbon footprint,” says Charlie Freese, executive director of global Hydrotec. “GM’s advanced fuel-cell technology gives these trucks a competitive edge against their diesel counterparts, with comparable towing and payload capabilities.”

GM has been fostering fuel-cell technology for decades, and its homegrown efforts are finally paying off as both the U.S. and Europe have gotten serious about developing a true hydrogen economy for several applications – commercial vehicle mobility and stationary power, to name the top two priorities.

While the U.S. is motivated primarily by climate change in driving hydrogen adoption, the European Union is investing tens of billions to try and wean member countries off Russian oil as much as possible.

GM’s Hydrotec fuel cells, notes the company, can help fleet customers meet changing regulations in states such as California, as well as help meet their own sustainability goals and potentially reduce fleet costs over time.

Separately, the U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center is supporting the development of fuel-cell propulsion systems in these medium-duty trucks with additional funding.

About the Author(s)

David Kiley

Senior Editor, WardsAuto

David Kiley is an award winning journalist. Prior to joining WardsAuto, Kiley held senior editorial posts at USA Today, Businessweek, AOL Autos/Autoblog and Adweek, as well as being a contributor to Forbes, Fortune, Popular Mechanics and more.

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