We are in conversation with Marijn Slabbekoorn, program manager GoGreen Europe at DHL Express. Last year, DHL Express tested the heavy-duty H2-Share hydrogen truck in the Benelux region. It was one of the most important tests within the H2-Share project so far, because it was done for a customer with time critical shipments.
"The demonstration was an interesting long-haul experience," recalls Marijn. The truck drove 200 to 250 kilometres across the border every day for two and a half months. It was refuelled at Wystrach's mobile hydrogen refuelling station (the ‘WyRefueller’), because TotalEnergies' permanent hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) was still under construction. "So we certainly put plenty of kilometres on the counter, which will hopefully provide valuable data for further evaluation.”
Although the overall demonstration went quite well, there were some technical difficulties during the test. "For example, the tachograph displayed errors, there was a technical fault on the truck and battery, a breakdown of the fuel cell and even the refueller had issues and wasn’t refilled on time once. These problems were solved relatively quickly each time, so we were able to get the truck on the road for most of the allocated project time," highlights Marijn. "The truck technology is still at a level of a 'pre-series' vehicle. That the H2 technology itself works was proven and that was an important experience for us. But the stability of the technical solution, the range and battery still need to be worked on. The design process itself also did not go quite as planned, so it ended up being a very different truck with different specifications than initially designed. The ultimate goal for using hydrogen in our network, is that the trucks become multi-deployable all day long, without any required long charge cycles."
Marijn: “Currently, there are three topics that need further development. Firstly, the vehicle technology is still immature, which makes the vehicle not fit for purpose yet and of course also expensive. Secondly, the availability of the refuelling network is not widespread, which limits its suitability. And as a third important topic, the TCO is not reasonable yet.”
DHL Express Europe has committed to 75% electric vehicles by 2030. Whether that will be battery electric only or partly fuel cell electric, is not fully clear yet. The demonstration gave DHL the insights to further evaluate and consider the potential of hydrogen as a green, zero-emission transport solution. "For the time being, we will focus on areas where solutions are available and where we can make a big impact already today. We are working to electrify our pick-up and delivery network and to utilize alternative fuels for both road and air... In short, it will be a smart mix of solutions and clean fuels in climate-neutral logistics," concludes Slabbekoorn.
Read the press release about the DHL demonstration.