JCB said it will invest about $138 million on a project to produce super-efficient hydrogen engines. It currently has a team of 100 engineers working on the project and will recruitment up to 50 more.
JCB targets the end of 2022 for the first machines to be available for sale to customers.
A prototype Loadall telehandler was unveiled at a central London event attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“It was fantastic to see JCB’s super-efficient hydrogen engines, which could overhaul UK manufacturing, help us to rapidly reach our climate targets and ramp up the UK’s hydrogen economy – an exciting area that will be essential to tackling climate change, creating new jobs and attracting investment,” Johnson said in a prepared statement.
Said JCB chairman Lord Bamford in a statement:
“Our sort of machinery will need to be powered by something other than fossil fuels. We make machines which are powered by diesel so we have to find a solution and we are doing something about it now.
“We are investing in hydrogen as we don’t see electric being the all-round solution, particularly not for our industry because it can only be used to power smaller machines. It does mean we will carry on making engines, but they will be super-efficient, affordable, high-tech hydrogen motors with zero CO2 emissions, which can be brought to market quickly using our existing supply base. These will be our industry’s first hydrogen engines, developed in Great Britain by British engineers. Hydrogen motors have the potential to help the UK reach CO2 emissions targets more quickly.”