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The Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology in Fleet Vehicles for Efficiency

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Fleet operators are looking for ways to drive efficiency. After all, they're in an industry with tight margins and many operational challenges. Investing in fuel-efficient vehicles helps the cause. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is an important part of that conversation.

What Is Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology?

Hydrogen fuel cell technology generates electricity via a hydrogen-oxygen chemical reaction. The reaction occurs in a fuel cell stack and offers an efficient way to power electric vehicles.

The only byproducts of a hydrogen fuel cell reaction are water and heat. This makes hydrogen fuel cell technology an eco-friendly alternative to internal combustion engines. 

The technology supports heavy-duty applications like fleet vehicles. This is an area where it can deliver significant efficiencies.

Top Efficiency Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

When asked about top priorities in 2023, fleet operators said improved operational efficiency. (Reducing costs and increasing driver productivity also topped the list). Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles support this efficiency initiative by:

  • Offering longer driving ranges. Vehicles cover more miles on a hydrogen tank versus battery electric vehicles (BEVs). With fewer refueling stops needed, fleet operators can reduce vehicle downtime.
  • Enabling faster refueling times. Refueling the tank of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle only takes a few minutes. Recharging BEVs can take hours. This speed lets vehicles spend more time on the road and complete more trips.
  • Delivering consistent performance. In extreme temperatures or as charge levels decrease, BEVs may experience performance issues. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles provide reliable propulsion, regardless of external factors.
  • Providing payload flexibility. BEVs can have limited payload capacity due to the weight and space of large battery packs. Compact and lightweight, hydrogen fuel cell systems maximize the use of vehicle space. That’s more room for cargo without hindering performance.
  • Reducing total cost of ownership. Hydrogen fuel cell efficiency means fewer costs during a vehicle’s lifespan. There are lower fuel costs and streamlined maintenance requirements. A longer vehicle lifespan also increases cost-effectiveness.

The Infrastructure Behind Hydrogen Fuel Cell Efficiency

In 2023, there were 59 hydrogen fuel retail stations available nationwide. The majority of these stations are in California. There are also private stations available to support fleets. Some private stations are for demonstration and research purposes.

The rollout of more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will call for more private stations. Yet, unlike BEVs, hydrogen-powered fleet vehicles will need a less extensive charging infrastructure. That's due to their longer driving ranges and rapid refuel times.

Creating an infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be more cost-effective. Refuel centers in key transportation corridors and logistics hubs will provide accessibility.

The Future of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology in Fleets

The demand for clean, sustainable transportation solutions will likely grow. As it does, hydrogen fuel cell technology will become a bigger market player.

Today, a key hurdle in hydrogen fuel cell vehicle adoption is upfront costs. Advancements in hydrogen fuel cell technology will help drive down vehicle production costs. At the same time, they'll yield even more efficient designs.

The government has introduced measures to make hydrogen fuel cell technology more affordable. The IRA’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is one example. This incentive includes a Qualified Commercial Clean Vehicles Credit. It offers a 30% tax credit for commercial fuel cell electric vehicles through 2032.

These variables give fleets more means to adopt hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with Hydrogen Fuel Cell Efficiency

Hydrogen fuel cell efficiency gives fleet operators a competitive advantage. While showing a commitment to sustainability, fleets can enhance their productivity. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is also becoming more affordable. What's more, the infrastructure to support these vehicles will expand. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will thus become a more workable option for fleets.

At Azuga, our goal is to help fleets operate in the most efficient way possible. With useful, real-time fleet analytics, you can keep tabs on your vehicles and get the most out of them. Explore our fleet tracking solution.