NZ Post unveils first fuel cell electric commercial vehicle

The first of Hyundai New Zealand’s five XCIENT hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks has been purchased by NZ Post.

The Hyundai XCIENT fuel cell truck was officially unveiled in its working livery by NZ Post at an event held at their Auckland Operations Centre last week and attended by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

Heavy transport makes up 4 per cent of New Zealand’s transport fleet but is responsible for 25 per cent of all transport emissions.

Under the Government Emissions Reduction Plan a target has been set to cut emissions from freight transport by 35 per cent by 2035.

Hyundai New Zealand CEO Andy Sinclair was delighted that NZ Post is the first to invest in what he described as zero emission transport technology.

“Kiwis should keep an eye out for the XCIENT – it might be their parcel in the back, travelling without the environmental impact of diesel, and in a remarkably quieter manner,” he said.

“Heavy transport emissions are notoriously hard to offset, as electric battery vehicle alternatives can’t offer companies the same productivity,” said Sinclair.

“Larger trucks are driven all day, every day over long distances. Taking multiple hours to recharge a battery regularly is time the truck can’t be on the road. Hydrogen technology is an important solution for NZ Post and other similar businesses to introduce as part of reducing heavy freight emissions.”

This truck will take over from one of its emission-heavy diesel counterparts, saving 1701 tonnes of C02 per year from being emitted into the environment and displacing approximately 100 passenger cars emissions based on typical annual mileage1.

High capacity hydrogen refuelling stations are on their way, such as Hiringa Energy’s four North Island stations coming online in early 2023. Until these first commercial refuelling stations are built, the truck will be fuelled using green hydrogen supplied by BOC.

Vesna Olles, Director Clean Energy Business Development and Strategy at BOC South Pacific said New Zealand’s first hydrogen truck was a significant milestone that would pave the way for decarbonisation of the heavy vehicle industry.

“BOC is proud to be collaborating with Hyundai and NZ Post to provide technical expertise and green hydrogen from our Glenbrook facility to get NZ Post’s first hydrogen truck on the road. This is an important first step as we develop the hydrogen industry and infrastructure to support further roll-out of zero emission hydrogen vehicles across New Zealand,” said Olles.

NZ Post’s Hyundai XCIENT Fuell Cell truck will now undergo a validation process. This includes operating the truck in different configurations, first as a truck only, then as a truck and trailer combination on several routes, gaining New Zealand-specific performance information to refine software settings and define the best-operating routes for this technology.

Once the commercial infrastructure is in place next year, the truck’s ideal first operational route is likely to involve Auckland to Hamilton to Auckland to Whangarei.

Taking ownership of a hydrogen truck is an exciting milestone, NZ Post Chief Executive Officer David Walsh said.

“We are very proud to be leading the way by putting the country’s first hydrogen truck into commercial operation,” he said.

Investing in hydrogen fuel cell technology aligns perfectly with NZ Post’s goal of being a fully carbon neutral business from 2030.

“Sustainability is a big deal to all of us at NZ Post, and we see hydrogen technology as one way to contribute to reducing our emissions within New Zealand’s road freight sector,” said Walsh.

Having introduced the world’s first mass-produced fuel-cell electric passenger vehicle, the ix35, and the second-generation fuel cell electric vehicle, the NEXO, Hyundai is now leveraging decades of experience, world-leading fuel-cell technology, and mass-production capability to advance hydrogen in the commercial vehicle sector with the XCIENT Fuel Cell.

The XCIENT Fuel Cell is a present-day reality, not as a mere future drawing board project according to Hyundai Motor Company Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Global New Business Development Group SeungMin Lee.

“It is the world’s first, mass produced fuel cell electric heavy duty truck, which has recorded a cumulated range of 4 million km until now with 47 trucks running in Switzerland,” said Lee.

“With the start of commercial operation of our XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks, I hope New Zealand will lead the way in sustainability.”

As Hyundai looks to the future, zero-emissions mobility will play a significant role in the company’s strategy.

 

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