The Traton Group announced it is preparing to transition to manufacturing electric trucks by investing $1.9 billion in research and development of e-mobility by 2025.
Traton, which is in the process of acquiring Navistar International, also is scaling back investments in conventional drives. By 2025, conventional drives will make up less than one-fifth of the company’s product development, and the share of product development dedicated to electric mobility will have doubled, company officials said in a press release.
“Traton is setting a clear focus on electric trucks,” said Matthias Gründler, chief executive officer of Traton SE. "This transition will not happen overnight. It will be gradual, sustainable, and in line with the required network expansion. If there is no charging infrastructure, it will not work."
The company’s main focus will be on battery-electric vehicles, seeing hydrogen as more of a niche technology. This is a different approach from some of its competitors that believe hydrogen will be necessary for long-haul applications.
Traton's belief is that most of the time, pure electric trucks will outperform their hydrogen counterparts as the more cost-efficient and eco-friendly solution for trucks, especially long-haul trucks.
“This is because compared to electric trucks powered by batteries alone, hydrogen trucks have one major drawback: Just one quarter of the energy output is ultimately used to power the vehicle, with the other three quarters lost along the way from the energy source to the road. This is the other way around for electric trucks,” explained Gründler.
He believes that the profitability of an electric truck and the amortization of its batteries come down to constant, heavy usage. And this is especially the case in long-haul heavy-duty transportation, company officials said.
"Niches" where hydrogen may take hold, he said, include coaches, for example, whose brief stops en route are not enough to charge them sufficiently. Hydrogen trucks may also play a role in regions where green hydrogen is particularly cheap, say near the North Sea wind farms or at ports.
Tranton brands have set concrete targets for 2025 and 2030: Electric vehicles will make up around 10% of Scania’s European unit sales in 2025, with half of MAN’s new buses also equipped with an electric drive system by the same year. By 2030, every second vehicle sold by Scania will be powered electrically and at least 60% of MAN’s delivery trucks and 40% of its long-haul trucks will be zero-emission.