Accelerating Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Vehicles: A Note from Matt Horton

Published on
Aug 9, 2023
Written by
Matt Horton
Read time
3 minutes
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Accelerating Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Vehicles: A Note from Matt Horton

Voltera was founded with a mission to build the energy infrastructure necessary to electrify the world’s transportation systems and reduce global carbon emissions. Heavy-duty trucking represents one of the largest opportunities to clean up our transportation sector, yet it is also among the most difficult use cases for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) to serve. Following more than a decade of my own personal engagement with customers and many other stakeholders in the industry as well as following massive new commitments made by Federal and State government agencies, I believe the conditions are now right for the scaled deployment of heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) powered by low-carbon hydrogen. However, as with the scale-up of BEVs, the lack of energy infrastructure remains a critical roadblock to the mass deployment of FCEVs.  

So today, I am pleased to share Voltera’s commitment to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles by including hydrogen refueling at many of our upcoming site developments serving heavy-duty vehicles. I am also excited to announce that we have formed a strategic partnership with Nikola to feature the HYLA brand at our sites along with HYLA’s low-carbon hydrogen supply. Through this strategic partnership, we intend to develop up to 50 HYLA stations creating the largest North American open network of commercial hydrogen refueling centers.

I have been following Nikola closely since my first meeting with them in 2016, and despite uneven progress over the years, have come to appreciate the new leadership of the company and remain optimistic about the vision that they are pursuing. Nikola has developed industry-leading expertise in both truck and refueling technology and has been hard at work laying the foundations for a hydrogen refueling network that we’re now excited to accelerate. This strategic move allows us to dramatically increase our impact by unlocking the potential of hydrogen trucks, offering a complementary pathway to sustainable transportation, and providing our customers with the energy choices that they’re asking us for.

Hydrogen Solves Key Customer Challenges

At Voltera, we are aware that the success of zero-emission transportation relies on reducing barriers for operators seeking to purchase vehicles at scale. Our strategic collaboration with Nikola represents a significant step in this direction. By expanding our focus to include hydrogen fueling infrastructure, we are not only embracing a comprehensive solution but also fostering partnerships with vehicle manufacturers and operators.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles provide an innovative solution for zero-emission transportation. These vehicles, powered by converting hydrogen into electricity and emitting only water vapor, address some of the limitations faced by battery-electric vehicles, such as longer refueling times, range anxiety, and weight/capacity limitations. For many customers, hydrogen refueling represents the best solution to their current operational needs, while others can meet their operational objectives exclusively with BEVs.  Some fleets are also planning to deploy a mix of BEVs and FCEVs in their fleets.  We intend to provide our customers with low carbon energy choices regardless of the electric vehicle platform that they choose.

We also recognize that not all sources of hydrogen will help us achieve the carbon reductions that we need as a civilization and are excited about our collaboration with the HYLA brand and their stated goal to develop a low carbon-intensity AND cost-effective fuel supply. Ensuring that customers will have access to lower-cost fuels is critical in maintaining the total cost of ownership advantages that we believe electric vehicles will have in the medium term.

Reducing Barriers and Enabling Mass Adoption

Our partnership with Nikola signifies our belief in the strong potential of hydrogen fueling infrastructure. By investing in the development of a robust network of hydrogen refueling stations through the HYLA brand, we aim to break down the barriers that have hindered the growth of hydrogen truck fleets. We understand that providing reliable and accessible refueling infrastructure is crucial in instilling confidence in operators and enabling them to transition to zero-emission fleets at scale.

Our vision is to create an ecosystem that supports the mass adoption of zero-emission vehicles. We recognize that affordability and availability are vital factors in driving this transition. By working closely with industry stakeholders, we aim to ensure that hydrogen trucks become a viable and economically feasible option for operators, empowering them to make sustainable choices for their fleets.

At Voltera, we are driven by our dedication to sustainability, and we invite you to join us in this transformative endeavor. Let’s work together to reshape the transportation landscape and create a world where zero-emission vehicles are the norm. Together, we can achieve a future where environmental stewardship and reliable, cost-effective transportation can coexist, benefiting our planet and future generations.