Navistar’s contract with GM is one of the key elements the truck manufacturer needs to build and sell large hydrogen facilities. In addition to working with GM, Navistar announced on Wednesday a partnership with startup OneH2 Inc. to develop a hydrogen fuel network. Shipper JB Hunt Transport Services Inc. will use the trucking and fueling system in a pilot program.

“Hydrogen fuel cells offer promising opportunities for heavy trucks in applications that require higher energy density, fast refueling and extra range,” said Persio Lisboa, Navistar’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “We offer a solution that technology enables,” he said when he called journalists.

Fuel cells, which use hydrogen on-board to generate electricity and power a vehicle, are considered a better solution than battery-powered electricity for long distances, as the trucks can carry more cargo and travel longer distances before needing to refuel.

Competitors include Toyota Motor Corp., which is developing a hydrogen-powered semi with its subsidiary Hino Motors Ltd., a partnership between the Volvo Group and Daimler AG, and Hyundai Motor Co., which has ambitious plans for its own high-performance fuel cell Truck.

Navistar’s strategy is very similar to Nikola’s. Both companies want to sell the trucks and produce the hydrogen and sell it to those buyers. Nikola has been looking for an energy company that can help develop its promised hydrogen network, but has exceeded an initial deadline at the end of 2020 and has signaled that it may have to go it alone.

Navistar said its trucks can travel 500 miles before refueling with GM’s Hydrotech fuel cell and refilling in 15 minutes.

Under the agreement, Navistar will also acquire a minority stake in OneH2 in Longview, North Carolina.

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