ABT e-Line plans to offer hydrogen fuel cell vans

Based in Kempten, Germany, ABT E-Line already distributes electric utility vehicles and battery-powered recreational vehicles. Due to the success of the appreciation recognized this year in Hanover during the IAA commercial vehicle show, the subsidiary of the ABT group is moving towards the marketing of a model with the PAC H2 in the experience of the Volkswagen Crafter modified in Bosch.

Since 1896, the history of the ABT group is impressive in more ways than one. For car enthusiasts, its ABT Sportsline brand is cult for giving sound and vibrancy to many models culled from the Volkswagen group’s catalogs. So with Audi, Cupra, Seat, Skoda, and even Lamborghini. The VW T6 Transporter also passed through its workshops. The engine gives us a great transition to take a step forward on the side of ABT e-Line, another entity of the group. In the utility versions and for the transport of people, this model became the ABT E-Transporter 6.1. It has a 37.3 kWh battery for a reduced range according to the WLTP mixed cycle between 121 and 138 km. The Volkswagen Caddy has also been the subject of an electric version, replacing the E-Transporter’s powertrain. In addition to the lithium-ion pack, it has an engine with an output of 83 kW. Since this vehicle is lighter, the radius of action is higher, in the range of 141 to 159 km.

Why is this the first so many paragraphs to evoke the electric battery models offered by the ABT group, with the possibility to tune them? For their low autonomy, while many utilities are connected hundreds of kilometers a day. This is the number 1 argument presented by ABT E-Line to justify its interest in electric H2 heat pumps: ” A daily distance of 800 kilometers is common in express logistics, for example, which would require a 300 kWh battery to save recharging time. “.

The company points out that even premium electric passenger cars don’t carry such large packs. There is no room for such energy capacity. In a utility, the necessary space is present, but it will be at the expense of the volume dedicated to the cargo, and especially the weight of the elements that will increase consumption and significantly change the handling of the vehicles so heavy.


Volkswagen Crafter H2s at the IAA

The Volkswagen Crafter really looks like it lends itself to a hydrogen conversion. The manufacturer itself opened the shot by showing its own HyMotion version in the PAC H2 at the IAA show in 2018. Coincidentally, that was also the year ABT e-Line unveiled its E-Carrier and E-Caddy. Four years later, the Crafter in the PAC H2 is again in the spotlight, but following the collaboration between Bosch and the subsidiary of the ABT group. If the first provided most of the main elements of the power supply (fuel cell, power supply module, specific injector, compressor, sensors, etc.), ABT e-Line took care of the delicate integration in the vehicle, especially for obtain a good distribution of the mass and not to reduce significantly in the volume dedicated to the transport. As well as the certification and the security part.

Road tests conducted since last September on 2 copies gave encouraging results. With a little less than 10 kg of hydrogen, the distance consumed is instantly curled by 540 km. After refueling for 6 minutes, the 2 vans are ready for the same distance.


The competition is organized…

We intelligently see an application area for the hydrogen fuel cell in long-haul logistics “said Eric Plekkepoel, head of ABT e-Line today. If the company is now forcing the movement, it is precisely because of the competition that is becoming organized. At the commercial vehicle show in Hannover a few weeks ago, its demonstrators with Bosch not isolated. Another German supplier, Schaeffler, associated with Symbio, also presented an electric Volkswagen Crafter with PAC H2. He also produces a variation where hydrogen directly powers a heat engine.

The market demand was so strong that we decided to start developing the series with partners “, please ABT e-Line. The company does not give details on the models that will be sold. Only that it is possible to install between 2 and 7 tanks under 700 bar. For what amount of hydrogen, what autonomy, and what price list? Nothing was said about it. The visuals show, under the hood, the PAC H2 that will provide electricity to the motor that drives the front wheels.


…And this is a good thing

Everything leads us to believe that the utility with PAC H2 soon to be launched by ABT e-Line will be based again on the Crafter base. Note: the group only works on Volkswagen Group models. This necessarily greatly reduces the choice. In this case, it will compete with the hydrogen-powered Renault Master designed by Hyvia. Stellantis also wants to be in this emerging market, but with smaller models (Citroën Jumpy, Peugeot Expert and Opel Vivaro), and therefore complementary.

Do you think all these players have a dim view of this competition being organized? belt For the former, it is a legitimization of the turn they took earlier than others. The more brands are in the dance, the more visible the offer, which clearly calls for the opening of new stations across Europe. Something to challenge the professionals!

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