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Kenworth and Peterbilt first electric Class 8 trucks up Pike’s Peak; fuel cell and BEV

PACCAR announced that a Kenworth T680 fuel cell electric vehicle and a battery electric Peterbilt Model 579EV became the first Class 8 zero emissions vehicles to drive to the 14,115 foot summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado.


Both vehicles displayed superb power and exhibited excellent drivability over the 156 twisting turns and switchbacks during the 4,700-foot elevation gain to the summit. The trucks handily negotiated grades between 7 to 10 percent over the famous 12.42-mile Pikes Peak International Hill Climb course.

We are very excited about the work Kenworth and Peterbilt have done in the development of zero emissions technology. Conquering Pikes Peak demonstrates PACCAR’s leadership in fuel cell and commercial vehicle electrification.

—Kyle Quinn, PACCAR chief technology officer

The Kenworth T680 fuel cell electric vehicle offers 470 hp and a 350-mile range with a 15-minute refill time. Kenworth and Toyota Motor North America are collaborating on a project to develop 10 zero emissions Kenworth T680 trucks powered by Toyota hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains.

It’s a great accomplishment for the Kenworth T680 fuel cell electric vehicle to summit Pikes Peak. The Kenworth T680 trucks will be placed in operation with our customers at the Port of Los Angeles over the next few months. The comprehensive Kenworth zero emissions program also includes the Class 8 Kenworth T680E and medium-duty Kenworth K270E and K370E battery electric vehicles.

—Kevin Baney, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president

The Peterbilt Model 579EV that climbed Pikes Peak is designed for optimal weight distribution and performance. The fully integrated, all-electric powertrain uses thermally-controlled Lithium Iron Phosphate battery packs to provide a range up to 150 miles.

When used in conjunction with a recommended DC fast-charger, the state-of-the-art, high-energy density battery packs can be recharged in 3-4 hours, making the Model 579EV ideal for regional haul, port, pickup and delivery and last mile operations. The Model 579EV delivers up to 670 hp and features regenerative braking that allowed the battery packs to recharge while descending from the peak, offering extended range.

During Peterbilt’s extensive validation program, the Model 579EV has exceeded expectations and delivered outstanding performance. There are currently 22 Peterbilt Model 579EVs on the road with over 50,000 miles of real-world customer operations.

Taking the Peterbilt Model 579EV to the summit of ‘America’s Mountain’ is an important milestone for Peterbilt and our entire lineup of battery electric commercial vehicles. Being the first battery electric Class 8 truck to climb to the top of Pikes Peak is further validation of all the real-world miles Peterbilt has accumulated across our entire EV test fleet and demonstrates we are ready to deliver production vehicles to our customers next year.

—Jason Skoog, Peterbilt general manager and PACCAR vice president



This good progress for semi tractors,
we could have a cleaner transport future.


Trucks with 'one petal driving' are truly possible using EV drivelines; diesel trucks burning oil and needing 10 to 18 forward gears are now obsolete.


"with a 15-minute refill time" does that include the time to find a hydrogen station?


Kenworth and Toyota have both feet on the ground. Once they get the kinks out, they will scale up quickly. Then the hydrogen stations will follow.


I do not believe that a 350 mile range with a 15 minute fill is going to cut it for long haul trucking. On the other hand, the battery electric truck with a range f 100 - 150 miles is ideally suited for pickup and delivery and last mile operations. I asked a number of drivers that were making deliveries to my company how far they drove in a day. In addition to the UPS, Fed Ex, etc, we got daily deliveries of steel and components shipped LTL freight. None of them drove more than about 100 miles and this was in Salt Lake City which tends to more spread out than most cities. Also, the battery electric short haul truck will have a lower first cost, lower energy cost, and lower maintenance coat. I believe that it is better to spend the available capital to obtain the most green house gas and emission reduction as early as possible.

K> Then the hydrogen stations will follow.

The lead time for building these stations is long, hope they are intending to start to create the nationwide (or coastal corridor) infrastructure soon.

There are serious headwinds:

H2 station cost is much higher than electric charge stations.

Retail cost of hydrogen is much higher than diesel.

For distances less than 350 miles, it’s going to be very difficult to compete with BEV.

That is the majority of truck miles driven.

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