MAN Truck & Bus

The future of truck drive technology is electric

The MAN eTruck in a hall

2 Aug 2022

MAN Truck & Bus is relying on electric drive to bring more sustainability to its fleet. However, research is also under way into hydrogen fuel cells.

At MAN Truck & Bus, the road to the future is clearly defined: “MAN is accelerating its transformation and taking huge steps towards emission-free drive technologies. The focus at MAN and within the TRATON Group is clearly on battery electric drives,” says MAN CEO Alexander Vlaskamp. The tremendous importance that the company places on climate protection is also clear from the 2021 Sustainability Report, which MAN submitted to the UN Global Compact at the beginning of June 2022. On the basis of this, the truck and bus manufacturer has officially embedded the topic of sustainability in its corporate strategy for the first time in its history.

There is a clear timetable for products as well: MAN intends to series produce heavy e-trucks in Munich from 2024. The battery electric MAN eTGM (with a range of around 190 kilometres) is already in use on the city streets of eleven European countries. Furthermore, 2025 will see the start of large-scale in-house mass production of battery packs in Nuremberg, representing an investment of € 100 million over five years for the long-established company. That investment is boosted by a technology grant of € 30 million from the Free State of Bavaria. “We’re building an e-mobility cluster in Bavaria. The capacities of the plants in Munich and Nuremberg are matched to each other,” explains Ulrich Zimmer, Senior Vice President Production Powertrain at MAN.

A MAN TGS electric truck on the road

Emission-free on the road: MAN is focusing on eTrucks and plans to mass-produce heavy electric trucks from 2024.

Hydrogen fuel for the “Bavarian fleet”

As an alternative to battery electric trucks, MAN Truck & Bus is also researching hydrogen-powered trucks: in the “Bavarian fleet” project, MAN is working with industry partners Bosch, Faurecia and ZF to develop a fuel cell truck, due to be delivered to five customers in mid-2024. They will then trial the hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks for a year in real-world use.

Essentially, both battery electric and hydrogen-powered trucks are driven by electric motors. In battery electric vehicles (BEV), the electric motor draws its energy from a battery. In contrast, in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), a fuel cell generates electrical energy from hydrogen and oxygen, producing water vapour as the waste product. Here, too, a battery is generally needed as an intermediate buffer, but it is significantly smaller.

There are pros and cons to both drive concepts. Fundamentally, fuel cell vehicles score higher with a greater range: Hydrogen HGVs are expected to manage 800 to 1,000 km on a single tank very soon, while only around half that distance is currently realistic for an electric truck. Nevertheless, advances in battery technology over the coming years will increase their range.

Portrait of the Production Planning Manager, Holger von der Heide

It’s just great to be involved with a modern, forward-looking technology.

Holger von der Heide – Production Planning Manager Truck
An eTruck is being charged

Every kilowatt counts: The TRATON Group is building a high-performance charging network for trucks with partners in Europe.

We can only expect the use of hydrogen trucks in selected applications once there is sufficient green hydrogen and the corresponding infrastructure, which is likely to be well beyond 2030.

Alexander Vlaskamp – CEO MAN Truck & Bus

The disadvantage of hydrogen technology is that it is relatively inefficient, because hydrogen production wastes a great deal of energy. Above all, however, energy costs during operation are significantly higher. And that can be a deciding factor, because for intensively used commercial vehicles, energy costs make up the largest share of a truck’s total cost of ownership.

Another key issue is the lack of infrastructure – and of green hydrogen. It can currently only be produced and transported at great expense. That’s why MAN is initially concentrating on electric trucks, but without losing sight of the alternative technology. “We can only expect the use of hydrogen trucks in selected applications once there is sufficient green hydrogen and the corresponding infrastructure, which is likely to be well beyond 2030,” MAN CEO Vlaskamp says.

Text: Christian Jeß

Photos: MAN

Recommended stories