Norway’s largest convenience goods wholesaler, Asko, together with commercial vehicle manufacturer, Scania, is to start testing trucks with an electric powertrain.

Scania will supply three-axle distribution trucks with a gross weight of 27 tonnes, where the internal combustion engine in the powertrain will be replaced by an electric engine powered by electricity from fuel cells and H2 gas on board the vehicle. The H2 will be produced locally, using solar cells.

The rest of the powertrain is composed of the same standard components used in the hybrid trucks and buses that Scania already delivers. Three trucks will form part of the research project, with an option for one further vehicle. The trucks will run in distribution service with distances of almost 500km.

Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt, who is responsible for the development of Scania’s hybridisation and electrified vehicles, said, “This very interesting project represents a unique opportunity to test the fuel cell technology for conversion of energy to our electric powertrains in a challenging customer operating environment. The conversion of H2 gas to electrical energy on board trucks, which are operated for longer distances will thus provide value experience for Scania’s continued development of electrified powertrains.”

Asko has the ambition to achieve a climate-neutral business, where distribution of goods will take place using trucks, which run on renewable fuels and in the longer term completely on electricity. Experience from pilot testing of vehicles and the plant, which will be built for local H2 gas production, will form the basis for Asko’s decision on a continued investment in H2 gas propulsion. The research project is partly financed by the Norwegian government.

Vågstedt continued, “In the near future, we will see fully battery-powered electric vehicles in service, primarily in sensitive urban areas as they are limited by their battery capacity and charging potential. Our own trials of battery-powered electric trucks and buses show that further development is required of batteries, which have the capacity to store the energy needed for long-haul goods and passenger transport before the internal combustion engine can be fully replaced.”