The IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hanover shows the future of the transport business. Hydrogen and electric drive also dominate in the really big trucks. However, that leaves questions.
After the IAA for passenger cars in Munich, which left a little perplexity among trade visitors and the public with its unconventional event concept spread over half the city , the IAA for commercial vehicles in Hanover (until September 25th) after a four-year break due to corona, a vehicle trade fair as before. Huge site, dozens of exhibition halls, premiere celebrations, many people. And yet, on closer inspection, a new era has dawned. Anyone who roams through the halls, examining the technology on display and the countless vehicles, could easily come to the conclusion: the diesel engine is dead.
Battery-electric drive and fuel cell technology dominate everywhere, and the hydrogen combustion engine is also experiencing its unexpected resurrection at some exhibitors. This does not only apply to vehicle manufacturers. The suppliers and component manufacturers, which are traditionally strongly represented at the Commercial Vehicles IAA, also rely on this field. Electric axles, hydrogen tanks and battery technology are hot topics everywhere.
Hydrogen remains on the agenda
The trade fair premieres make this clear in every vehicle class. At Ford, the new E-Transit Custom is arriving, at VW the ID Buzz plays the leading role in numerous special versions . With the E-Actros Long Haul , Mercedes brings the first long-distance electric truck and at the Iveco stand, Nikola CEO Michael Lohscheller pulls the cloth from the new Nikola Tre FCEV .
Ex-Opel boss Lohscheller then set the actual motto of the trade fair at his presentation: "Hydrogen or electric drive? The answer is relatively simple: both", said the manager at Nikola's press conference. ,
A statement that many decision-makers from other companies could agree with, at least based on the products on display. Because hydrogen propulsion, which has recently been increasingly sidelined, primarily as a fuel for fuel cells, but occasionally also as an alternative fuel in gas engines, is omnipresent at the trade fair.
The infrastructure must be expanded
The manufacturers seem to be ready and have the drive technology of the future ready to go or at least almost ready for series production, that is one conclusion of the trade fair. However, the situation is different when it comes to infrastructure, for which the IAA Commercial Vehicles has more questions than answers. Because neither is currently hydrogen gas, especially from "green production" available on such a large scale that a significant fleet of trucks could be operated with it.The electrical infrastructure is still rudimentarily fit for the comprehensive electrification of freight transport, especially in times of the current energy crisis.
Accordingly, the diesel engine should still have a few kilometers to go in the transport sector in the near future, even if the innovations from this area that can be looked for with a magnifying glass were often to be found at the back of the stands at the Commercial Vehicle IAA. But there is also progress to report here, for example with the new D26 engine line from MAN, which was presented at the IAA and was advertised with three percent fuel savings, among other things. At Mercedes, in addition to all sorts of electrifying equipment, there was also the new Mercedes-Benz Actros L with an optimized OM 471 diesel engine, and at DAF, a completely new generation of the XD distribution truck celebrated its premiere. With diesel.
Small electric delivery vehicles are trendy
In addition to the large devices, the small load carriers are also very popular at the Commercial Vehicle IAA. The Chinese manufacturers in particular are trying to get a foothold in the German fleet market for small and mini vans. In particular, delivery services and municipal companies should surf through the cities with the electric midgets and take up little space with the commercial vehicles, some of which are only one meter wide. The chances of this are not so bad, because the manageable range and performance of most e-mini transporters also ensure manageable acquisition costs.
Hydrogen and, above all, electric drives should not only be the new normal in the car sector and on the famous "last mile" in delivery services. According to the unmistakable result of this year's commercial vehicle IAA in Hanover, long-distance transport is also on the verge of comprehensive electrification.
In the truck sector, the industry has long been moving to the topic of "megawatt charging", i.e. charging individual trucks with over 1,000 kW charging capacity. Where the countless megawatt chargers required for this should be located and how they should be integrated into Germany's current, already unstable power grid and supplied with sufficient energy - question marks. Creating this (and the hydrogen) infrastructure is a matter for politicians. The manufacturers delivered in Hanover, now it's Berlin's turn. Which, given the current political situation, is not exactly hopeful.