EC - Horizon 2020 logo

Validation of fuel cell urban trucks and related infrastructure
Deadline: 03 May 2016   CALL EXPIRED

EU logo mono EC - Horizon 2020

 Entrepreneurship and SMEs
 Health Care
 Urban Development
 Climate Sciences

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

European urban areas are increasingly facing deterioration of their air quality. Among other contributors, urban trucks performing a number of services are emitting local pollutants (CO, NOx, PM, HC) which cause bad air quality. Thus, from a healthcare perspective, local pollution in urban areas and city centers are becoming a growing concern for an increasing number people and public authorities.

At the same time a drastic GHG reduction of emissions in the growing road freight sector is needed to meet long term climate and energy targets..

With the hope to quickly improve air quality, several big European cities have already decided to limit the access to urban areas of diesel-fueled heavy duty-vehicles. Many others are considering applying the same approach. However, this strategy risks to increase the number of conventional light commercial vehicles circulating in city centers, generating traffic congestion and, consequently, worsening tail-pipe emissions of toxic pollutants.

Therefore, local authorities expect that industry makes available advanced and more sustainable solutions for urban logistics, including innovative zero emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

In this context, the first “all-electric” truck prototypes (powered exclusively by batteries) have been evaluated in Europe. The main conclusion of such experimentation trials is that these vehicles have largely insufficient driving range. Payload penalty and charging time are also major issues, penalizing profitability for loaders and making very unlikely the commercial success of this kind of vehicles.

Fuel Cell technologies may dramatically improve the driving range of these vehicles providing the operational attributes necessary to replace diesel trucks. A fuel cell truck should have the same daily operation behavior and payload as its diesel version (e.g. refuelling time), while proposing an acceptable payload in comparison with an “all-electric” vehicle.


The topic calls for deployment and demonstration of Fuel Cell urban truck fleets, where urban truck stands for a truck having a Gross Vehicle Weight between 3.5 tons and 20 tons, which performs daily back-to-base mission within an urban area.

The project should cover the manufacturing, deployment and evaluation by real end-users in a real operating environment of a series of at least 10 urban trucks and the related infrastructure. The trucks should be deployed in at least two major European cities willing to improve their urban logistics via the utilization of innovative transportation solutions.

FC trucks

The fuel cell truck should be derived from a hybrid or electric platform to limit the risks linked to the electrification of the whole power train and the integration of the fuel cell system and can be equipped with a battery in order to manage energy braking recovery and power demand peaks.

Nevertheless, it is required that the fuel cell and hydrogen system provides at least half of the energy needed for performing its daily duty.

The trucks should be designed to meet end-users’ needs and the behavioral features of the conventional trucks usually circulating in the cities hosting the project.

The cities shall ensure a high involvement in promoting these technologies, and in particular, facilitating the deployment and the exploitation of the new urban trucks.

The fuel cell trucks are expected to comply with the following requirements:

  • >20,000h vehicle operation lifetime initially, minimum 25,000h lifetime as project target
  • The key power source of vehicles must be a fuel cell system or an hybrid solution with a battery and a fuel cell range extender
  • Fuel cell system MTBF >2,500 km
  • Availability >90% (to be measured in available operation time)
  • Tank-to-wheel efficiency >42%, for trucks measured in real cycles.
  • Series production ability has to be shown

It will be important to demonstrate that the fuel cell trucks will be able to fulfill requirements for urban delivery, assuring one day of operation without refill.

  • The funding per truck should be the lesser of 1500€/kW installed FC system or 300,000 €
  • The minimum operational period for any truck demonstrated in the project is 24 months.


The project should also include hydrogen refuelling stations with suitable capacities to meet the operational requirements of an urban truck fleet of at least 5 units.

The challenge is to maintain high levels of station availability, identify the right level of system redundancy and ensure fuel availability during the entire year.

HRS are expected to comply with the following requirements:

  • HRS are to be designed to allow for supply of at least 5 urban trucks daily for cost effective HRS operation.
  • A target availability of the station of 98% (measured in usable operation time of the station providing redundancy for service and maintenance) should be adopted
  • Inclusion of the HRS designs developed under earlier programmes (including the 2014 call) to show integration of concept and cost down potential of hydrogen production and storage for larger fleets as well as the potential to scale up capacity.
  • The cost of dispensed hydrogen offered in the project needs to be consistent with the national or regional strategy on hydrogen pricing. Cost improvements due to increased hydrogen production capacity and especially higher utilization rates of the HRS is anticipated in the course of the project (target at the pump < 9 €/kg excl. taxes)

The maximum funding per HRS is 400,000 €, excluding on-site production equipment.


Beyond demonstration of the technology the participating cities shall ensure the communication of their efforts to other cities/regions in Europe and beyond and use appropriate channels/fora to share their experience within the project.

Any event (accidents, incidents, near misses) that may occur during the project execution shall be reported into the European reference database HIAD (Hydrogen Incident and Accident Database) at

It is recommended that the project is co-funded by national, regional or private sources in order to demonstrate a strong commitment towards clean propulsion and emission free public transport. Co-funding needs to be fully secured before the signature of the grant agreement to ensure timely realisation of the project.

Proposers should provide a clear evidence of:

  • political support for the project together with commitment to further involvement in the roll out must be provided as part of the proposal, through a Letter of Intent
  • a comprehensive exploitation-plan for the project should also form part of the proposal.

The consortium should include trucks fleet providers/operators, trucks OEMs and FC systems integrators, refuelling infrastructure operators, fuel retailers, industrial players, local and regional bodies, as appropriate and relevant to the effective delivery of the programme. The involvement of SMEs is highly encouraged. To be eligible for participation a consortium must contain at least one constituent entity of the Industry or Research Grouping.

The following TRLs are at least required:

  • 6 for the mid-range trucks at start of project
  • 7 for the HRS at start of project.

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 5 million per project. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

Expected duration: 4-5 years

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic

Expected Impact:

It is expected that the project provides a significant step towards successful market introduction of FC trucks by reducing their cost significantly while increasing their maturity, reliability and lifetime. It is also expected that by using FC systems (preferably already demonstrated successfully in FC-passenger cars) in other road transport applications, like trucks and vans, the uptake of FC technology and cost reduction of FC and FC system components is significantly increased.

Hydrogen refuelling stations for larger fleets of will be heavily utilised and therefore generate a bigger learning effect in comparison to underutilised stations for other applications. This is a precondition on the pathway towards commercial operation of refuelling infrastructure. It shall increase the confidence of fleet operators in reliable fuel supply and demonstrate the viability of fuel cells for trucks. Furthermore it is expected that the new fleet stations contribute to the build-up of a European-wide hydrogen refuelling network.

The project should identify and disseminate:

  • Lessons learnt from implementing and operating urban trucks for early adopters
  • Quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the impact of the technology on public health and urban living (e.g. comparison against incumbent technology, in situ measurement etc.)

Professional dissemination of information on the activities of the project to the broad public is seen as a key part of the demonstration project. It should especially be foreseen to communicate the benefits of hydrogen and fuel cells in public transport. Regional authorities should support the project with communication.

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