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10.04.2015

THE FRENCH POST OFFICE AND RENAULT TRUCKS JOINTLY TEST A HYDROGEN-POWERED TRUCK RUNNING ON A FUEL CELL

A sustainable development strategy

Renault Trucks and the French Post Office ("La Poste") are pursuing their commitment to a sustainable development strategy and will be introducing, on an experimental basis and as a first in Europe, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. This 4.5-ton Maxity Electric model now enjoys an autonomy raised to 200 kilometers and for a year will be tested under actual operating conditions in Dole (Jura Department).

Renault Trucks is for the first time ever demonstrating in partnership with La Poste a Maxity Electric model in Europe designed with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell, developed by Symbio FCell, that serves to double the vehicle's autonomy. This field test, scheduled to last a year, will enable Renault Trucks to explore all potential avenues of hydrogen technology under actual operating conditions. "This vehicle generates no noise impacts and only releases water vapor; 200 kilometers of autonomy make it the ideal choice for a daily schedule of urban and suburban routes", shares Karine Forien, Director of Energy Efficiency Strategy with Renault Trucks. She continues "Our purpose behind this project is to support European metropolitan areas in their goal of limiting air and noise pollution emissions, through testing innovative vehicles that produce zero emissions and that in the near term should become economically viable for our customers."

For La Poste, which at present owns the world's largest fleet of electric vehicles, this experiment is part of a continuous effort underway to extend the autonomy of its fleet. For nearly a year, in the Franche-Comté Region, the Post Office has been testing, during carriers' collection and distribution of mail and packages, clean vehicles running on hydrogen. "Hydrogen stands out today as an efficient solution for extending the possibilities of the electric vehicle product line and its autonomy. More broadly, the development of a hydrogenbased energy storage system is a linchpin to our energy transition", explains Frédéric Delaval, Technical Director of the Mail and Package Delivery Services Office at La Poste.

Renault Trucks has configured its 4.5-ton Maxity Electric vehicle to accommodate a fuel cell, with the development and vehicle integration steps being carried out in partnership with the firm Symbio FCell. As a result, Maxity Electric's average autonomy of approx. 100 kilometers has been bumped up another 100 kilometers thanks to energy supplied by the fuel cell. "When the vehicle is running, the electric motor is fed by two complementary energy sources; the fuel cell is capable of delivering a maximum power of 20 kW and, once that threshold has been reached, the batteries kick in to supply whatever power is still required. When idle, the fuel cell is available to recharge the battery as needed", points out Christophe Vacquier, supervising the project. The heat released by the cell is then reused to warm the passenger compartment, which avoids having to consume any energy stored in the batteries, thus helping ensure longer autonomy. Mr. Vacquier further highlights the cell's mode of operation: "The formation of water from oxygen in the air and hydrogen stored in the tanks triggers the production of electricity and heat, in accordance with the reverse principle of water electrolysis."

By signing this contract, La Poste and Renault Trucks are combining their efforts in pursuit of launching in France a viable hydrogen-powered transport alternative. Like for conventional electric vehicles, the true emergence of this sector will require rallying industry, users and public policy behind these efforts.

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