Finalization of the prototype will continue until the end of the year, after which testing will begin. “The first tests will take place at our polygon in Kopřivnice. After that, of course, we want the car to be able to go into service, and we’ve actually tested it with our customers,” said Pončík.
According to him, the main advantage of the car concept is that it is suitable for urban agglomerations. “The vehicle produces no emissions and is silent. So in case of any construction, it will also be suitable for the communal sphere,” said Pončík.
The Tatra car is being developed in cooperation with the ÚJV Řež company, which is the project coordinator, the Devinn company and the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague. “The car that we are electrifying in the consortium is one of the heaviest vehicles that has ever been converted to hydrogen,” said Aleš Doucek, head of the department of hydrogen technologies and innovations in energy at ÚJV Řež.
According to him, it was also challenging to adapt the vehicle for operation even in extreme conditions. “Tatra relies a lot on the fact that its vehicles have very good off-road parameters, very good climbing ability and the like, and there was a big demand from Tatra that these parameters be maintained at worst,” said Doucek. Due to the operation of the car in dusty environments, the development team solved the pre-treatment of the inlet air for the fuel cell, so the car has, for example, separators or a chemical filter.
The car is based on the latest generation of the Tatra Force model series. It uses an eight-wheel chassis of the Tatra concept with a central support tube and swinging independently suspended semi-axles. The drive of the prototype is electric, but it is designed so that it can be independent of external sources of electrical energy. It also has pressure tanks for hydrogen in a gaseous state, so the fuel cells produce electric energy from hydrogen directly on board the car.
According to Pončík, thanks to the electric motor, the car is easier to drive than classic Tatras with an internal combustion engine. “You don’t have to play with the clutch here, it’s like in a passenger car when you sit in an electric car, for example. We tried to create the vehicle in such a way that even a driver with minimal experience could operate this car without any major training,” said Pončík.
The car is expected to have a range of around 500 kilometers per charge. “Of course it will depend on the type of traffic. It will be different when the car drives on the road, otherwise it will be off-road. But with a total weight of 44 tons, which is what the car is built for, the range should be something between 400 and 500 kilometers,” said Pončík.