Hyzon Motors, a US-based manufacturer of hydrogen fuel-cell trucks and coaches has acquired German battery-electric truck company Orten.

Orten — whose website address is electric-trucks.de — converts diesel-fuelled commercial vehicles into battery-powered ones.

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Hyzon said the deal would allow the company to supply small battery-electric trucks, while continuing its focus on hydrogen-powered fuel cells for larger vehicles.

“Complementary product lines between Hyzon and Orten, in combination with Orten's body and powertrain kits, provide a comprehensive solution for customers transitioning their fleets to zero emissions: vehicles up to 26 tons can be transitioned to Orten's existing offering of battery electric vehicles, while the operational requirements of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles can be met with Hyzon’s FCEVs,” Hyzon said in a statement.

Hyzon CEO Craig Knight has previously told Recharge that he believes long-distance battery haulage would be ‘near impossible’ for several reasons, including the inability of the grid to cope with the sheer amount of electricity that would be required to fast-charge multiple battery trucks at the same time.

Orten itself markets its conversion of commercial diesel trucks as “the inner city solution”, rather than a long-distance one.

Indeed, Hyzon seems more interested in accessing Orten’s customer base than in building battery-electric trucks.

“We look forward to working with the Orten team to accelerate Germany's move to zero emissions through hydrogen fuel cell technology, and to deepen the customer relationships Orten has in the beverage industry to include the potential of Hyzon FCEVs,” Knight said in a statement.

He confirms to Recharge that the deal is “mostly about market access to that customer base”.

“We can keep supplying battery electric smaller trucks... but the real attraction is the trucks the customers are currently taking from Orten as custom beverage trucks running on diesel... [customers] are all searching for zero-emission alternatives.”

The acquisition — which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year — brings three production facilities and more than 80 employees in Germany under the Hyzon umbrella.

“Orten’s employees are experienced in electrification, retrofitting, and bodybuilding, all critical elements of Hyzon's FCEV build process. Additionally, Orten management has extensive, long-standing customer relationships across Germany,” said Hyzon.

“Germany is expected to be a major global market for zero-emission commercial vehicles in the coming years. The EU recently announced a total ban on sales of combustion engine cars from 2035, and Germany offers various incentives to transition heavy vehicles off diesel, including some that provide subsidies for up to 80% of the additional investment costs of going electric compared to replacing vehicles with diesel equivalents; and even greater levels of subsidy for some public fleets.”

Robert Orten, long term owner and CEO of the Orten group, added: “Being a first mover in the field of battery electric trucks, we now have the opportunity to scale up our proprietary electrification and body building know-how.”

The price of the acquisition has not been made public.