GM is providing its Hydrotec Power Cube technology for use in cement mixers, construction trucks, dump trucks, and other vocational trucks built by Autocar LLC as its contribution to a partnership signed between the two companies that was announced this morning.
The Hydrotec Power Cubes will help Autocar meet the intense energy demands of its severe-duty Class 8 trucks as it seeks to create zero-emissions versions of these powerful vehicles.
The Power Cubes are well suited to Autocar’s needs because, unlike EV batteries, hydrogen fuel cells are relatively lightweight, an important consideration for vehicles that are already extremely heavy. Another key advantage for these hard-working trucks is the fast refueling that is possible with the technology, cutting downtime to a minimum compared to even the quickest EV battery recharging.
The General’s Ultium platform is sufficient to the needs of passenger vehicles, Hydrotec executive director Charlie Freese says, but “larger vehicles like Autocar’s class 8 trucks, refuse trucks and terminal tractors require robust solutions” with high energy and fast refueling.
He added that “we want to enable zero tailpipe emissions solutions for the largest, highest energy consuming vehicles, and fuel cells are ideal for the most energy intensive applications.”
Fuel cells such as the Power Cubes can support large payloads, the announcement remarks, as well as offering quiet operation on top of their other advantages. The Cubes are also scalable and can be used for everything from “freight trucking, aerospace and locomotives to power generation,” among other applications.
The president of Autocar, Eric Schwartz, says the vehicles jointly developed with GM will offer “an additional avenue for our customers to meet their EPA requirements with zero tailpipe emissions vehicles.” Production is anticipated to kick off in 2026, with “cement mixers, roll-off and dump trucks” first off the assembly line and garbage trucks and terminal tractors following later.
Hydrotec fuel cell technology, including the Power Cube modular hydrogen fuel cell system, has been ready for practical commercial use since summer 2023 according to an SAE report. The Cube includes a high-efficiency arrangement of 300 second-generation fuel cells and uses only 20 grams of platinum in its construction, 25 percent of the original amount of precious metal needed.
Charlie Freese also asserted “large vehicles and heavy payloads – that’s where replacing petroleum-fueled vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells works very well,” a sentiment Autocar appears to agree with fully.