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Volkswagen Group's Traton truck-making subsidiary has said it will invest EUR1.6bn in e-mobility research and development by 2025. It also said that the share of conventional drives in the company's product development budget reduced to less than a fifth at the same time. By 2025 the share of Traton's product development dedicated to electric mobility will have doubled.

Traton CEO Matthias Gründler said: "Traton is setting a clear focus on electric trucks. This transition will not happen overnight. It will be gradual, sustainable, and in line with the required network expansion. If there is no charging infrastructure, it will not work."

The EUR1.6bn sum for research and development in e-mobility by 2025 compares with an e-mobility investment of EUR1bn that had been planned originally over this period.

The Traton Group's brands have already set concrete targets for 2025 and 2030: electric vehicles will make up around 10% of Scania's European unit sales in 2025, with half of MAN's new buses also equipped with an electric drive system by the same date. By 2030, every second vehicle sold by Scania will be powered electrically and at least 60% of MAN's delivery trucks and 40% of its long-haul trucks will be zero-emission.

When it comes to alternative drives, Traton's main focus is on battery electric vehicles. Nevertheless, the company also said that 'hydrogen technology may well come into its own in niches'. Most of the time, pure electric trucks will outperform their hydrogen counterparts as the more cost-efficient and eco-friendly solution for trucks, especially long-haul trucks. "This is because compared to electric trucks powered by batteries alone, hydrogen trucks have one major drawback: just one quarter of the energy output is ultimately used to power the vehicle, with the other three quarters lost along the way from the energy source to the road. This is the other way around for electric trucks," said Gründler.

That flies in the face of much conventional wisdom suggesting that hydrogen trucks are ideal for long haul and electric trucks the preserve of short-haul applications. Traton CEO Matthias Gründler believes that the profitability of an electric truck and the amortization of its batteries come down to constant, heavy usage. And this is especially the case in long-haul heavy-duty transportation. Having said that, Traton also said hydrogen trucks are also likely to take hold on the market in the next ten years. The example of long-haul coaches was cited.  Their brief stops en route are not enough to charge them sufficiently. The company also acknowledged that hydrogen trucks may also play a role in regions where green hydrogen is particularly cheap, say near the North Sea wind farms or at ports.

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By GlobalData