University of Aachen presents electric truck with FC range extender

The “Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components” (PEM) chair at RWTH Aachen University has presented the first road-ready prototype of its electric heavy-duty truck, which will be equipped with a fuel cell to extend its range.

The vehicle is being developed as part of the “SeLv” research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport with around 16.9 million euros. The abbreviation stands for “Heavy-duty trucks for zero-emission logistics in heavy-duty transport by means of an electrification kit and an economical production system”. The RWTH Aachen project, which will run until October 2023, focuses on the development of an e-drive train with fuel cell “range extender” for commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 41 tonnes. The modular powertrain is to be just as suitable for retrofit solutions as for new vehicles.

The RWTH presented the current prototype at the “Electric Vehicle Production Days” (EPT) in Aachen. In the next development stage, the fuel cell and the tank system will be implemented in the vehicle. In the future, ranges of more than 1,000 kilometres should be possible with the drive. The developers have not yet published further technical data.


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“We are pursuing a holistic approach that makes it child’s play to automatically organize all routes, including fuel stops and breaks, by entering the destination,” says project manager Fabian Schmitt. This is ensured by a networked, permanently updatable system that is connected to the haulage company and provides an operating solution for the driving personnel based on the Android Automotive OS platform. “Fast ‘refueling’ keeps logistics operations running at their best,” says Schmitt.

The project is to be continued and industrialised in the future by the RWTH spin-off Moion GmbH. The new company will act as a provider of the truck conversions and the powertrain kit required for this in the future, the university informs.

“Electrification of heavy-duty transport remains a major challenge for climate protection,” says PEM Director Professor Achim Kampker. “To meet the high energy demand of heavy trucks and realize locally emission-free long-distance transport, we need to exploit the technological advantages of fuel cells. This requires not only fleet renewal but also the electrification of the many existing vehicles.”

With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France.


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