JCB unveils hydrogen-powered equipment prototypes at event with Prime Minister

The construction equipment company has announced it is investing £100m in zero-emission hydrogen engines to replace diesel.

Boris Johnson with a hydrogen-powered JCB
Boris Johnson with a hydrogen-powered JCB

Construction equipment giant JCB has announced it is investing £100 million in zero-emission hydrogen engines to power machinery.

The company made the announcement as it unveiled a prototype hydrogen-powered backhoe loader and another machine – a telescopic handler – with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at an event in London.

The firm said it already has a team of 100 engineers working on the hydrogen engines, and is recruiting up to 50 more to deliver on its bid to make the first machines available to customers by the end of 2022.

Prime Minister unveils hydrogen powered JCB
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and JCB chairman Lord Bamford at the unveiling of a hydrogen-powered JCB Loadall telescopic handler (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

JCB chairman Lord Bamford said the company is investing in hydrogen, because electric is not an all-round solution, particularly for its industry, as it can only be used to power smaller machines.

“Our sort of machinery will need to be powered by something other than fossil fuels,” he said.

“We make machines which are powered by diesel so we have to find a solution and we are doing something about it now.

“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.”

Prime Minister unveils hydrogen powered JCB
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the hydrogen economy ‘will be essential to tackling climate change’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Johnson said: “Great British manufacturers like JCB are developing innovative solutions to slash greenhouse emissions and advance the UK’s green industrial revolution.

“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.”

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