PHOTO CAPTION: Renault H2 Maxity Electric truck powered by batteries and Symbio fuel cell.

French La Poste to Test Battery-Fuel Cell Mail Truck

La Poste deploys its second plug-in, fuel cell parcel delivery truck as part of an experiment to increase the payload and extend the range of its all-electric delivery vans.

Published: 13-Mar-2015

The state-run postal service, La Poste began experimenting with matching fuel cell range extenders with its delivery vans in 2013, installing a Symbio FCell cell stack and supporting hydrogen storage tank in a Renault Kangoo van. The plan was to deploy the van in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France along the Swiss border, especially to test its winter weather capabilities. The purpose of the fuel cell was to help extend the operating range of the electric mail delivery van.

Now over a year later, La Poste, Renault and Symbio, which is partial owned by Michelin, have announced they are going to follow up on the Kangoo ZE with a 4.5-tonne Renault H2 Maxity Electric truck, capable of hauling 1-tonne.

The Symbio FCell is capable of producing 20kW of energy, which will be supported by a 400 kg (881 lbs) lithium battery pack. The FCell and its twin 75 liter hydrogen tanks weight 300 kg. The truck's top speed 90 km/h (56 mph). Range is estimated to be 200 km (124 mi.). Battery recharge time is said to be 7 hours.

Unlike the Kangoo where the fuel cell is used to recharge the battery pack, which in turn, powers the drive motor, the Maxity system relies on the FCell as is primary propulsion system with the batteries providing supplemental energy for acceleration, hill climbing, and possibly regenerative braking. During idle, the FCell stack will keep the batteries recharged. Additionally, the heat generated in the fuel cell stack can be used to warm the passenger cabin, an important consideration since La Post will deploy the truck to the city of Dole in the mountainous Jura region of France, which typically has "a particularly severe winter," according to La Poste.

The truck has already been sent to Dole where it will be used to deliver both mail and parcels.

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