The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI – Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur) is supporting the City of Karlsruhe in the purchase of two fuel cell-powered waste collection vehicles with a funding notification amounting to around 1.5 million euros.

The two vehicles will represent the entry into fuel cell drive technology and its ramp-up in the area of heavy-duty vehicles in the municipal fleet, a major emitter of pollutants. The vehicle fleet of the city of Karlsruhe currently comprises 650 motor vehicles, including 50 waste collection trucks. Steffen Bilger, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, handed over the funding notification to Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup at the Office for Waste Management (AfA – Amt für Abfallwirtschaft) on Thursday, 17 June 2021.

The purchase of the waste collection trucks is being funded as part of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP 2) – coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ). The pilot project is intended to test waste collection vehicles powered by fuel cells in real-world conditions. This will replace the same number of conventional waste collection vehicles with diesel engines and they will be used in inner-city areas. For each diesel-powered refuse collection vehicle replaced, approximately 26 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year will be saved to a theoretical 0 tonnes, minus the CO2 emissions from the non-regenerative production of hydrogen and the electrical energy for charging the drive batteries, which cannot be reliably determined at present.



  • Low-entry chassis with 26 t gross vehicle weight limit
  • Two fuel cell waste collection trucks from Zoeller (Mercedes Econic chassis)
  • 3-axles
  • Capacity 22 m³
  • Traction motor 250 kW, 3,500 Nm
  • Battery capacity 85 kWh
  • Range extender with two fuel cell modules
  • Power 60 kW
  • Tank volume H2 16.8 kg


The estimated total costs for the two fuel cell waste collection vehicles are around 2.23 million euros. The purchase costs for a conventional waste collection vehicle (without fuel cell drive) are estimated at 266,900 euros.


Pictured (from left to right): Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup, Steffen Bilger (Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure), Olaf Backhaus (Head of the Waste Management Office of the City of Karlsruhe), Dennis Egen (Waste Management Office, Central Fleet Management)
Image source: Monika Müller-Gmeli