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Going the distance: the Tevva hydrogen range extender

Tevva have become well known for building some of the most advanced medium-weight battery electric trucks. With support from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) project SANGREAL, they are now producing battery electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell range extenders and rare-earth mineral-free motors provided by Advanced Electric Machines Ltd.

“We are very focused on the realities of truck operators that need to go out and work eight, nine, ten hours of deliveries, and not be concerned about range,” says Asher Bennett, CEO and Founder of Tevva. “Not only are those miles zero-emission but are also much cheaper than driving a diesel truck.”

Two-thirds of the lifetime cost of owning a diesel truck is fuel, so going electric and covering as many miles as possible makes real business sense.

But there’s a problem. Truck operators often put their electric vehicles on shorter routes to ensure they come back to depot with plenty of energy left in the battery – mitigating the risk of running out of charge. 

What’s the solution?

“We could double and triple the batteries,” says Bennett. “But when you double or triple the battery size, you eat significantly into the payload, which is the whole purpose of trucks. Also, when you would want to charge such a large battery, the charger will probably cost more than the truck. That is just not a great solution.”

For Tevva, the answer is a hydrogen fuel cell range extender and a sophisticated vehicle telemetry and management system – developed with the support of the APC.

This means operators can ensure efficient use of the battery capacity, have confidence to add more range when needed, and maximise return on investment. A major advantage of hydrogen is that a vehicle can be refuelled in a matter of minutes, allowing the truck to be kept working for as many hours of the day as needed.

As the cost of hydrogen is currently still more than diesel, Tevva is using it as a back-up fuel, allowing operators to plan longer routes, without the worry of running out of charge.

“We’re not just looking to sell vehicles,” says Harsh Pershad, Head of Hydrogen at Tevva. “We’re looking to sell a solution, and the integration of the vehicle with its energy supply takes away the pain for customers. The support of the Advanced Propulsion Centre has enabled Tevva to raise their ambitions and offer better low-carbon transport solutions: the vehicle, the chargers and the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.”

“Without the APC, we would be looking at a far, far smaller solution,” says Richard Lidstone-Scott, Commercial Director at Tevva. “Battery electric vehicles are fantastic. But they can only address roughly 20% of the whole medium-duty commercial vehicle market. By adding hydrogen into the mix, we can address 98% of that market, so we can start greening hundreds of millions of miles as opposed to just millions of miles.”

Road to Net Zero Podcast: Tevva

Road to Net Zero Podcast

Our Road to Net Zero podcast is all about how the UK automotive industry is transitioning to net zero. In a series of interviews, we highlight key issues and developments, interesting projects and technologies emerging from one of the UK’s most innovative sectors on the road to net zero.