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 Paul - the hydrogen truck

MEET PAUL! The Hydrogen Truck

Clear the road for a new member of the DHL fleet! This hydrogen truck is now out on the streets in Germany, where we are testing it in distribution and line-haul operations. 

Does Paul have potential?

Hydrogen truck on departure

Hydrogen has huge potential – there’s no doubt about it. But right now, the technology raises more questions than answers. Are hydrogen-powered trucks the vehicles of the future? Where will we fuel our cars in five or ten years – at the pump or the plug?

In road logistics and transport, the future of alternative drive solutions is still pretty fuzzy. We don’t yet have a clear winner. That’s why we’re examining all available options with an open mind.

And one of those options is “Paul” – the hydrogen truck made by Paul Special Trucks. Let’s take a closer look.

More than hydrogen under the hood

Man loading his car

The Paul Hydrogen Power Truck (PH2P® Truck) is a medium-duty vehicle running on hydrogen fuel cells. It’s based on the Mercedes-Benz Atego and is the first series-produced hydrogen fuel cell truck in its class in Germany. Paul is equipped with an 80-kW fuel cell made by Toyota, a single-stage 200-kW drive made by Voith, and two 60-kWh batteries. The PH2P® weighs 15.6 tons and can haul 26 tons about 400 kilometers. Without a trailer, the truck can travel 600 kilometers before needing a refill. Refueling takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

The power of Paul

26 tons

Gross pull weight

400 kilometers

Range without trailer

10-15 minutes

Refueling time

600 kilometers

Range without trailer


Fuel cell by Toyota


Drive by Voith

The second of its kind

Paul is actually the second hydrogen truck now in service at DHL Freight – our road freight and customs experts. We’re testing both vehicles in the Cologne area for performance and practicality.

The tests are part of a broader collaboration with Shell, which provides the vehicles and hydrogen refueling infrastructure as well as all necessary services and support – like inspections, repairs, and tire changes – during the test period.

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150 and counting

Hydrogen truck from above

Paul is now one of around 150 vehicles in our fleet at DHL Freight in Germany that either have zero-emissions (no direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions) or have significantly reduced GHG emissions. Others include battery-electric vehicles for local transport and biogas vehicles (bio-CNG and bio-LNG) for long-haul transport.

In 2021, we joined Volvo Trucks for the world’s first test of a fully electric truck with gross vehicle weights up to 60 tons. In 2024, we’ll run new pilot projects with battery-electric vehicles for long-haul transport and hydrogen-powered tractor-trailers.


Paul’s journey is more than a test – it’s part of our quest

Hydrogen truck is loaded

Our pilot project with Paul isn’t just about testing another vehicle – it’s about relentlessly exploring a wide range of sustainable solutions for the logistics industry. As an industry leader and innovator, we feel it is our responsibility to assess every available technology and harness its potential where possible.

That’s why we’re interested in technologies like hydrogen. As a Group, we aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. And we won’t be able to do it without switching to alternative drive solutions.

Hydrogen-powered trucks only emit water vapor and have the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 100% if green electricity is used to produce the hydrogen! The same goes for battery-powered electric vehicles if they are charged using energy from renewable sources. That means the biggest hurdle to adding hydrogen trucks to our sustainable vehicle fleet is the availability of renewable energy. The International Renewable Energy Agency believes hydrogen will be needed to decarbonize long-haul transport.

Our new friend, Paul, is another milestone on our journey. When green hydrogen becomes more readily available, we’ll be ready to make the most of it.

Looking for more?

Read more about Paul and other road and rail freight logistics stories on Freight Connections – the logistics blog powered by DHL Freight – our road freight experts.

Published: March 2024

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