Volvo to Launch Hydrogen-Powered Trucks, Forms JV with Westport Fuel Systems  

Volvo Trucks is developing trucks with combustion engines that run on green hydrogen. A key collaboration partner in the effort is Westport Fuel Systems of Canada whose high-pressure direct injection technology is a key enabler. The two companies are establishing a development joint venture. 

On-road tests with trucks using hydrogen in combustion engines will begin in 2026, and the commercial launch is planned towards the end of this decade. The new initiative provides a significant step for Volvo to achieve its net zero goal and support customers involved in heavy transport to reach their decarbonization targets. 

Hydrogen trucks will be especially suitable over longer distances and in regions where there is limited charging infrastructure, or time for, recharging of batteries, says the company. It will begin customer tests with trucks using hydrogen in combustion engines in 2026, and the trucks will be commercially available towards the end of this decade. Already, testing in labs and in vehicles is ongoing. 


“Trucks where the traditional internal combustion engine remains but runs on hydrogen will have the same performance and reliability as our diesel trucks, but with the added benefit of potentially net zero CO2 emissions well-to-wheel. They will be a valuable complement to our battery electric trucks, which have been on the market for several years,” says Jan Hjelmgren, Head of Product Management and Quality for Volvo Trucks. 

The trucks will complement Volvo’s offering of other alternatives such as battery electric trucks, fuel cell electric trucks and trucks that run on renewable fuels like biogas and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). 

Volvo trucks with combustion engines powered by green hydrogen have the potential to deliver net zero CO2 well-to-wheel when using HVO as ignition fuel and are categorized as Zero Emission Vehicles under the agreed new EU CO2 emission standards. 

“It’s clear that several kinds of technology are needed to decarbonize heavy transport. As a global truck manufacturer, we need to support our customers by offering a variety of decarbonization solutions, and customers can choose their alternative based on transport assignment, available infrastructure and green energy prices,” says Jan Hjelmgren. 

Volvo trucks with hydrogen-powered combustion engines will feature High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI), a technology where a small amount of ignition fuel is injected with high pressure to enable compression ignition before hydrogen is added. The advantages of this technology include higher energy efficiency with lower fuel consumption, and increased engine power. 

HDPI technology from Westport Fuel Systems 

Volvo Group has signed an agreement with Vancouver-based Westport, a supplier of alternative fuel systems and components to the global transportation industry, to establish a joint venture utilizing HPDI technology. The joint venture is anticipated to become operational in the second quarter of 2024, following formal closing. Westport will contribute certain HPDI assets and opportunities including related fixed assets, intellectual property and business into the venture. Volvo Group will acquire a 45% interest in it for about US$28 million, payable upon closing, plus up to an additional US$45 million as an earn out depending on the subsequent performance of the joint venture. 

Not surprisingly, Westport executives have applauded the recent agreement between European legislators regarding the lowering of CO2 emissions in the European Union’s heavy-duty road transport sector. The regulatory agreement sets forth revised corporate CO2 emissions reduction targets for new original equipment manufacturers’ heavy-duty vehicles at 45 percent by 2030, 65 percent by 2035, and 90 percent by 2040 as compared to a 2019 baseline, while ensuring that existing innovative technologies are preserved. These emissions reduction targets maintain a degree of flexibility for OEMs to comply using a portfolio of CO2 reduction solutions including low carbon fuels, hydrogen combustion, fuel cell, and battery electric technologies. Zero-emission vehicles are a central element of the regulations, and Westport’s H2 HPDI fuel system solution is compatible with the ZEV threshold of 3gCO2/ton-km. 

Dan Sceli, CEO of Westport Fuel Systems 

“As a key supplier of hydrogen and other alternative fuel system solutions, we are encouraged by the EU’s revised CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles,” said Dan Sceli, CEO. “These new standards reflect ambitious decarbonization targets that can be achieved by utilizing a blend of new and current vehicle and fuel system technologies such as those in Westport’s portfolio while also clearing a path to encourage future investment in the best and most affordable solutions to decarbonize heavy-duty transport.” 

Nadège Leclercq, Senior Director of Government Relations and Market Development at Westport, added, “In establishing the overall fleet CO2 reductions targets, revising the zero-emission vehicle threshold to 3gCO2/ton-km, the legislature of the EU has added a degree of flexibility for both OEMs and their customers to continue on the road to decarbonization. This flexibility is much needed in a transport sector that must cater to a diverse range of operational requirements. While we regret the absence of a mechanism to account for the benefits of renewable fuels, expanding the fleet of vehicles that are able to utilize these low carbon fuels, including biomethane, is imperative to realizing true CO2 reductions across the heavy-duty vehicle sector.” 

The company’s clean mobility solutions are engineered for a diverse set of zero-emission vehicles with hydrogen fuel systems and components for both internal combustion engines and fuel cell applications including: 

  • H2 HPDIfuel system – high efficiency hydrogen ICE technology allowing a wide range of truck configurations to comply with the ZEV threshold of 3gCO2/ton-km 
  • Engine management systems for spark ignited engines – engineered for monofuel hydrogen ICEs that are classified as a ZEV technology by regulatory definition 
  • Hydrogen components for fuel pressure management and regulation – a portfolio of components that are used commercially today in the growing market for hydrogen fuel cell and ICE vehicles 

“Our current products and innovative technologies support long-term decarbonization by efficiently reducing CO2 emissions across different applications, delivering both environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness,” said Scott Baker, Vice President of Global Engineering for Westport. “Advanced products, such as our LNG HPDI fuel system on the road today, used with increasing shares of biomethane have in the past years and will in the coming decades continue to deliver growing CO2 reductions to the heavy-duty vehicle sector in Europe and will be supplemented with an expanding range of hydrogen products.” 

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