Infinium partners with ENGIE for one of largest announced commercial-scale e-fuels plants in Europe; Reuze project
Phillips 66 and H2 Energy Europe to from JV to develop up to 250 hydrogen retail refueling stations by 2026 in Germany, Austria and Denmark

Fraunhofer analysis finds battery-electric trucks have energy cost advantage over hydrogen trucks

In a recent analysis, Fraunhofer ISI concludes that battery-electric drives will become established in heavy-duty applications in the commercial vehicle sector and that fuel cells will remain a niche application. The decisive factor for the switch to battery-electric vehicles is the energy cost advantage compared to hydrogen and diesel.

A paper on the work is published in Nature Electronics.

Electricity and hydrogen are the two key energy carriers for a low-carbon future, and hydrogen will play a vital role in industry, shipping and synthetic aviation fuels. But for road transport, we cannot, I believe, wait for hydrogen technology to catch up, and our focus now should be on battery electric vehicles in both passenger and freight transport.

—Plötz (2022)


Freight segments and potential applications for zero emission trucks. The different applications of trucks are arranged according to annual mileage and vehicle weight and load. The center of the ovals indicates the typical annual mileage and weight for each given heavy-duty vehicle application. The dashed lines indicate the mileage and weight combinations that are feasible with different truck technologies (first-generation battery trucks, second-generation battery trucks and second-generation battery trucks with megawatt charging systems (MCS)). The maximal capabilities of trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells, and diesel or synthetic fuels are also indicated, as well as electric road systems. Plötz (2022)

We are pleased with the clarity of the analysis result, even if it does not surprise us. It once again confirms TRATON Group’s strategy of focusing on battery-electric drives for our commercial vehicles.

In truck traffic, especially on long-distance routes, pure e-trucks will in most cases be the cheaper and more environmentally friendly solution. This is because hydrogen trucks have a decisive disadvantage: only about a quarter of the output energy flows into the drive, three quarters is lost through conversion losses. With the e-truck, the ratio is reversed.

—Catharina Modahl-Nilsson, Chief Technical Officer of TRATON Group

In addition, the expected amount of green hydrogen is limited, even with large-scale imports, and should thus be available to energy-rich industries, as the current Fraunhofer study also summarizes. The demand from European industry alone, for example steel mills, massively exceeds the total green hydrogen production capacity currently planned for the EU for 2030.

The energy cost advantage of battery-electric trucks is the key to a rapid switch to e-trucks, because fuel and energy costs account for the largest share of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for intensively used commercial vehicles. They exceed the purchase costs many times over.


The better the vehicles are utilized, the more intensively, longer and more regularly they are used, the greater the energy cost advantage of e-trucks becomes.

Overall, a typical heavy-duty e-truck in Europe is likely to be ahead of a conventional diesel truck in terms of total costs as early as 2025. However, this requires an area-wide fast-charging infrastructure, in Europe designed for a driver's 45-minute break after four and a half hours of driving.

Battery-electric long-distance trucks are coming, the technology is there, and the networks will go along with it. What’s needed now is political support to achieve massive CO2 savings quickly with this technology. That’s why the development of a high-performance charging network for e-trucks must be pushed forward promptly, and with government support.

Modahl-Nilsson said that further support for a rapid changeover could be found in incentives for the operators of battery-electric trucks. Conceivable here, for example, would be exceptions to the Sunday driving ban or making night logistics possible.

For TRATON Group, the high cost-effectiveness of e-trucks on long-distance routes is the most important lever for an emission-free future. We expect that by 2030, as much as 50% of our new sales in long-haul transport could be battery electric, provided the charging infrastructure is in place. This is not likely to fail due to the resilience of the power grids—our trucks mainly load at midday and at night, when demand and prices are particularly low.

—Dr. Andreas Kammel, responsible for the strategy on alternative drives and autonomous driving at TRATON


  • Plötz, P. (2022) “Hydrogen technology is unlikely to play a major role in sustainable road transport.” Nat Electron 5, 8–10 doi: 10.1038/s41928-021-00706-6



A wise conclusion; can only be applauded.


Suggest Fraunhofer institute to read carefully above link and publish a correction accordingly


Perhaps what you need is a hybrid of fast charging and partial electric roads (or catenary charging systems).
Thus, you might have 10-25% of the road covered with high power wired charging systems which suitably fitted vehicles could charge from. You would cover the rest with batteries.
If you had this, you could drive from charge point to charge point without having to stop and fill up.
Also, you could charge more slowly, which would prolong battery life.
You would require EU wide standards for this, of course, they used to have trolleybuses all over cities in much of the world so it is not a crazy idea.


The Fraunhofer Institute is focused on Ground Transport where the “Hydrogen Economy” does appear to have many challenges. BEV seems to have the early advantage, and if short distance heavy trucks are combined with something like Parallel Systems Autonomous Rail ( then Hydrogen looks even more difficult.

However, there are two areas where Hydrogen could play an important role: Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and Maritime applications.
It would be interesting to hear your perspective on two recent research activities.
The first one is the work by the University of Delaware on hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cell (HEMFC) to remove CO2 from the air. Could this be used for SAF production? (References: Shi, L., Zhao, Y., Matz, S. et al. (2022) “A shorted membrane electrochemical cell powered by hydrogen to remove CO2 from the air feed of hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells.” Nat Energy doi: 10.1038/s41560-021-00969-5 and
Also, recent work by Schaeffler and Hydrogenious on a LOHC Fuel Cell.


BEVs advantages will only continue to grow as battery technology advances...many predict energy densities in the 500 Wh/kg within 5 years...that would be a 100% increase and would put hydrogen out of the running for the ground transportation segment. There is a place for H2, perhaps in commercial aircraft and cargo ships; and, as above,
to remove CO2 from the air.


For short haul routes


Tixhonjm@ LOL, that site is "Astro turf" run by a bunch of financial guys


@yoatmon , I absolutely agree. My first though on reading the article was "No S---"

There was an article in the NYtimes today about the race to be able to build sufficient electric delivery vans to meet the growing demand. Also, Ford quit taking reservation for the F-150 Lighting after getting 200,000 reservations. They were originally planning on making 75,000/year but are already working on doubling their manufacturing capacity.


Like the BEV politicians, Fraunhofer wants to sell the BEVs as an ecological miracle religion! It is well known that the raw materials for batteries are already limited. The raw material prices are rising and where do these raw materials come from - Fraunhofer is hiding that!
The energy for operating the many BEVs is not always available either! Politicians also want BEVs so that the power grids can be stabilized with 100% green electricity! And the citizens have to stay at home or use public transport 100% - deportation!
I demand that goods and goods may only be transported by train and may only be driven by truck up to a maximum of 5 mls! Then we don't need huge 1000kWh batteries in trucks but small H2 tanks in trucks for fuel cells or the ICE engine!

H2 can at least be pre-produced and then used when needed - like diesel and petrol!


“Raw materials for batteries are already limited”
Not really, There are 180 billion tons of lithium in the ocean and a California company Controiled Thermal Resources will extract lithium from Geothermal salts in the Salton Sea (green electricity and lithium - GM is investing in the company, too.
Also, another misconception BEV only last 10 years, not if it has a LFP battery like the Tesla Model 3/Y SR+ which could last 5000 cycles and then would be recycled.
Do you want to transport 4 adults and a dog plus pull a trailer a long distance. The Tesla Model Y could do that if the trailer is an Airstream eStream Travel Trailer (read:
So again, ground transport can be handled by BEV, even Toyota-San is starting to agree.

The comments to this entry are closed.