European Diesel Truck Prices Are About to Tank-Is the US Next?

The European Union is speeding up plans to see hydrogen fuel cells begin the elimination of diesel power for trucks. Volvo and Daimler are now collaborating to develop fuel cells more quickly. Both companies are banking on there being a big shift away from diesel in heavy trucks and they want to help facilitate that shift. 

Cellcentric wants to begin manufacturing FCEV trucks by 2025

Diesel trucks | Getty
Diesel trucks dominate European Union cargo | MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP via Getty Images

The combined fuel cell company is called Cellcentric and it wants to begin manufacturing FCEV trucks by 2025. Cellcentric has stated it believes that once FCEV trucks become available demand will increase at a rapid pace. Daimler representatives told the Financial Times that diesel truck demand will rapidly start dropping. 

Daimler Truck CEO Martin Daum says that diesel truck sales will only last another three or four years before it starts dropping and hydrogen fuel demand goes “steeply up.” That timeline coincides with Volvo’s already-in-the-works EV trucks. Volvo originally said it wants half of its European truck sales to be either EVs or hydrogen-powered by 2030. 

How the companies see diesel demand ending is with battery power used for lighter cargos and shorter distances. Fuel cells would be used primarily for heavy loads and longer distances traveled. 

Volvo is expected to reach its 50/50 EV/fuel cell goal sooner than 2030

diesel truck being fueled up
D&B Trucking owner-operator Dave Lilly fills his truck’s tank | ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

RELATED: Your Heavy Duty Diesel Truck Will Be the Last to Go

Now with this partnering with Daimler, Volvo is expected to reach its 50/50 goal sooner than 2030. Some analysts see this as over-optimistic because hydrogen fuel infrastructure in Europe is not really there yet. But other analysts think that because of the huge truck sales both Volvo and Daimler have that they will be able to overcome the dearth of hydrogen stations. 

As for infrastructure Daum says, “It is clear that green hydrogen is the only sensible way forward in the long term.” Volvo CEO Martin Lundstedt says, “Our united ambition is to meet the targets in the Paris agreement of becoming CO2-neutral by 2050 at the latest. We are convinced that hydrogen fuel-cell technology plays an essential role in helping us reach that milestone.

“But we know there is so much more to achieve than just the electrification of machines and vehicles. There needs to be greater cooperation between public and private stakeholders to develop the necessary technology and infrastructure, which is why we are calling for united action from policymakers and governments around the world in helping us make hydrogen fuel-cell technology a success. Partnerships like Cellcentric are vital to our commitment to decarbonizing road transport.” 

Cellcentric wants Europe to establish 300 hydrogen refueling stations by 2025

diesel truck fueling up
A truck driver fills the tank of his lorry with diesel at a fuel station | Mark Renders/Getty Images

Cellcentric wants to see Europe establish 300 hydrogen refueling stations by 2025. Then, ramp it up to 1,000 stations by 2030. This would help ease the concerns of a lack of infrastructure. But there are other concerns as well.

Pollution-free trucks are very expensive right now. Cellcentric sees “a policy framework is needed to ensure demand and affordability.” That means government incentives combined with tax assessments based on carbon and energy content. Swapping emissions credits as we do in the US is another option Cellcentric would like to see the European Union explore. None of this means that the US will follow suit, but it could.