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Navistar to create hydrogen truck, fueling solution with GM, OneH2

Jan. 27, 2021
J.B. Hunt will pilot test the new zero-emission, long-haul transportation system on dedicated routes by the end of 2022.

Navistar has partnered with General Motors (GM) and OneH2 to launch a long-haul transportation system powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology. The system, which aims to provide commercial fleets with a fully integrated solution that includes vehicles, fueling, and service, will be piloted by J.B. Hunt Transport Inc.

Navistar plans to make its first production model International RH Series fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) commercially available for model year 2024. Navistar's President and CEO Persio Lisboa said the pilot phase will begin with J.B. Hunt’s fleet by the end of 2022, with the ultimate goal of reaching a target range of 500-plus miles and a hydrogen fueling time of less than 15 minutes.

“Hydrogen fuel cells offer great promise for heavy-duty trucks in applications requiring a higher density of energy, fast refueling, and additional range,” Lisboa explained. “We are excited to provide customers with added flexibility through a new hydrogen truck ecosystem that combines our vehicles with the hydrogen fuel cell technology of General Motors and the modular, mobile and scalable hydrogen production and fueling capabilities of OneH2. And we are very pleased that our valued customer J.B. Hunt has committed to utilize the solution on dedicated routes and to share key learnings.”

In November 2020, GM’s EVP and North American President Steve Carlisle spoke about the company’s focus on an electric future. His presentation discussed envisioning a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.

“Now is the time to begin building an electric fleet,” Carlisle said, during the ACT Virtual event. “A lot of fleet managers are thinking about electric vehicles these days, either because their respective companies have established clear sustainability goals, or just because they see these [trends] on the horizon and they want to get started. I believe the biggest fear of building an EV fleet is simply the fear of the unknown. And that's why it's so important to get educated early. The key is to jump in now and test the water.” 

The International RH Series FCEV will get its energy from two GM Hydrotec fuel cell power cubes, each containing 300-plus hydrogen fuel cells along with thermal and power management systems. According to GM, these cubes are compact and easy to package into many different applications.

“GM’s vision of a world with zero emissions isn’t limited to passenger vehicles. We believe in EVs for everyone,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. “We’re thrilled to work with like-minded companies like Navistar and OneH2 to offer a complete solution for progressive carriers that want to eliminate tailpipe emissions with a power solution that can compete with diesel.”

According to Navistar, the combined propulsion system within the International RH Series FCEV will feature a more improved power density for short-range travel, short-burst kW output and a per-mile cost expected to be comparable to diesel in certain market segments. 

Under its partnership agreement with Navistar, OneH2 will supply its hydrogen fueling solution, which includes hydrogen production, storage, delivery, and safety. Through its affiliates, OneH2 plans to kickstart substantial hydrogen heavy truck refueling infrastructure by incorporating more than 2,000 International RH Series FCEVs into existing truck fleets in the near term.

While Navistar did not disclose the specific financial arrangements between the companies involved in the partnership, the company did announce it has taken a minority stake in OneH2.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to partner with Navistar,” said Paul Dawson, OneH2 president and CEO. “We believe strongly that hydrogen fuel is the future of zero-emission renewable energy in the heavy truck market and are pleased that this agreement will provide additional scope for its application. Under this agreement, we will be able to offer fleets a zero-emission truck with total cost of operation lower than diesel in key segments of the industry.”

J.B. Hunt has 521 possible dedicated routes to choose from when beginning the pilot testing in 2022. However, J.B. Hunt's COO Nick Hobbs said, “It’s too early right now to know which routes specifically will be chosen, but this partnership allows for lots of flexibility while we roll this out.”

“J.B. Hunt is committed to delivering more while using less, and this new fully-integrated solution offers a prime opportunity to do that,” said John Roberts, J.B. Hunt president and CEO. “As we serve our customers and communities, the combination of hydrogen fuel cell technology and refueling capability will enable us to reduce emissions along with energy consumption, fulfilling our environmental sustainability commitment to our customers and the communities we serve.”

Hobbs noted that the scalability of this partnership is very flexible.

“We’re based on-site with our customers, so we can fuel anywhere from 20 to 500 trucks at our facilities," he said.

Navistar did not reveal any pre-order numbers for the International RH Series FCEV, but Lisboa noted this partnership will offer a holistic solution by providing both the vehicle and refueling capabilities.  

“This solution is going to be offered to all companies in the country’s infrastructure, not just proprietary to our partners,” Lisboa added. “Our collaboration goes beyond fuel cell technology; the goal is to discover the learnings from the pilot testing, so that the future of hydrogen can be widely improved by everyone in the infrastructure.” 

About the Author

Catharine Conway | Digital Editor

Catharine Conway previously wrote for FleetOwner with a Master of Science in Publishing degree and more than seven years’ experience in the publishing and editorial industries. Based in Stamford, Conn., she was critical to the coordination of any and all digital content organization and distribution through various FleetOwner and American Trucker channels, including website, newsletters, and social media. 

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