Volvo Trucks is planning on-road tests for trucks with hydrogen internal combustion engines in 2026, ahead of an intended commercial launch towards the end of this decade.

The Swedish manufacturer says hydrogen trucks will be suitable for trucks that cover long distances and in regions with limited charging infrastructure. Its new hydrogen trucks will complement its existing portfolio of battery electric trucks, fuel cell electric trucks and trucks that run on renewable fuels, like biogas and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), to help the company achieve its net-zero goals.

The trucks will use high pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology, where a small amount of ignition fuel is injected with high pressure to start the engine before adding hydrogen. The technology, Volvo claims, offers increased engine power, coupled with higher energy efficiency with lower fuel consumption.

With testing in labs and in vehicles already underway, Volvo is eyeing to start customer tests with hydrogen-powered trucks in 2026, Kallanish understands.

The hydrogen combustion engines are expected to offer the same performance and reliability as Volvo’s diesel trucks. Yet, the new Volvo vehicles will have the benefit of “potentially net-zero CO2 emissions well-to-wheel,” claims Jan Hjelmgren, head of product management and quality at Volvo Trucks.

If the trucks use renewable HVO as ignition fuel, they will have net-zero CO2 emissions well-to-wheel, and thus count as zero-emission vehicles under the new EU CO2 emission standards, Volvo argues. However, the company notes that the trucks will emit “very small amounts of nitrogen oxides and particles.”

“It’s clear that several kinds of technology are needed to decarbonise heavy transport,” adds Hjelmgren. “As a global truck manufacturer, we need to support our customers by offering a variety of decarbonisation solutions, and customers can choose their alternative based on transport assignment, available infrastructure and green energy prices.”

In March this year, Volvo announced a joint venture with Westport Fuel Systems to use the HPDI technology for long-haul transport applications. The JV is expected to become operational in the second quarter of this year, subject to formal closing.