Stuttgart / Berlin (dpa) - The technology is comparatively expensive and so far hardly widespread, yet Daimler is relying on fuel cells in its heavy long-distance trucks in the long term.

In the future, trucks powered by liquid hydrogen should cover classic long distances of 1000 kilometers and more and replace the diesel trucks that are still required today.

At the same time, as planned, the group is also launching a fully battery-powered 40-ton truck that will only have about half the range, but should be more efficient and flexible in use.

"The lighter the charge and the shorter the distance, the sooner the battery will be used," said Daimler Trucks CEO Martin Daum on Wednesday in Berlin at the presentation of the GenH2 Truck, the fuel cell truck from Mercedes-Benz, which is in the second half of the decade should go into series production.

"The heavier the charge and the longer the distance, the more likely the fuel cell will be the means of choice."

As with the cars, the entire new vehicle fleet in Daimler's truck division should be CO2-neutral by 2039 at the latest.

However, there has so far been no serious alternative to diesel, especially on long-haul routes - heavy battery-powered trucks can only cover long distances with charging stops.

"If we go the long haul, we have to go to the fuel cell in addition to purely battery-electric trucks," said Daum of the German press agency.

You are now moving forward, but others would have to join in.

“The biggest disadvantage is the lack of infrastructure,” explained Daum, speaking of a chicken-and-egg problem: without vehicles ready for series production there is no infrastructure, without infrastructure there is no interest in a fuel cell truck.

"Nobody would buy it today, even if we had it in series production," said the Daimler Trucks boss.

Daum therefore linked the presentation on Wednesday with a call to politicians to create better framework conditions.

"In order to make CO2-neutral fully electric vehicles competitive, regulatory and state control measures are required, including the necessary infrastructure for charging green electricity and for generating, storing and transporting green, liquid hydrogen," he emphasized.

There is also a need for further incentives such as a CO2-based toll, he told the dpa.

Daimler's battery-powered eActros will be launched in series next year.

The long-haul version with a range of 500 kilometers is scheduled to start in 2024.

It is intended more for routes that can be planned, for example in commuting or distribution traffic.

He is aware that investing in fuel cells is definitely a risk in view of the weak infrastructure, emphasized Daum.

"If there is just as little hydrogen infrastructure in five years' time as there is today, then something has gone wrong," he said.

"Then we won't be able to convince our customers of this technology and it will be extremely difficult to achieve the CO2 reduction targets."

The federal government is providing around 17 million euros in funding to develop the fuel cell truck.

"We need a quick turnaround in the fleet," said Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU).

To do this, you not only have to support the technology, but also pay attention to purchase prices or the infrastructure.

The company does not reveal what Daimler invests itself.

In order to advance the technology, the Stuttgart-based company teamed up with Volvo some time ago.

In addition, there is a close exchange with companies that could provide the necessary infrastructure, said Daum.

But they also needed clear signals.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200916-99-586825 / 2