Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group have signed a preliminary non-binding agreement for the joint venture. They will develop, produce and commercialize fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicle applications. Daimler will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities in the joint venture. The Volvo Group will acquire 50 percent in the joint venture for the sum of approximately EUR 0.6 billion on a cash and debt-free basis. The Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG will be 50/50 partners in the joint venture, which will operate as an independent and autonomous entity.
“Transport and logistics keep the world moving, and the need for transport will continue to grow. Truly CO2-neutral transport can be accomplished through electric drive trains with energy coming either from batteries or by converting hydrogen Don board into electricity. For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer and technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades. This joint initiative with the Volvo Group is a milestone in bringing fuel cell-powered trucks and buses onto our roads,” said Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler Truck AG and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.
The joint venture will include the operations in Nabern/Germany (currently headquarters of the Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH) with production facilities in Germany and Canada.
Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems. Such joint ventures are bound to benefit auto companies to meet the Green Deal objectives within a feasible time-frame.
“Electrification of road transport is a key element in delivering the so-called Green Deal, a carbon-neutral Europe and ultimately a carbon-neutral world. Using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations is one important part of the puzzle and a complement to battery electric vehicles and renewable fuels. Combining the Volvo Group and Daimler’s experience in this area to accelerate the rate of development is good both for our customers and for society as a whole. By forming this joint venture, we are clearly showing that we believe in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles. But for this vision to become reality, other companies and institutions also need to support and contribute to this development, not least in order to establish the fuel infrastructure needed,” said Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group President and CEO in a press statement.
Volvo already operates battery-operated electric passenger buses in Europe. This experience will help in pushing the project forward. There are indications that the trucks will be manufactured at Volvo’s Gothenberg factory in Sweden. Volvo might have a slight advantage here if it takes the help of an up and coming player in the fuel cell world, Power Cell, which incidentally has its manufacturing unit in Gothenburg too.
Power Cell was formed by the ex-employees of Volvo’s fuel cell division, though they have now partnered with Bosch to market the technology. Another advantage that Gothenburg has is the presence of an abandoned hydrogen fuelling station. It was built by Woikoski, a Finnish industrial gas company.
Nevertheless, Gothenburg has all the elements to become a thriving fuel cell hub: Volvo trucks, Power Cell, and the hydrogen station if it re-opens.
Many automakers have been experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell technology for the past 20 years. Volkswagen’s Scania division has already started production of fuel cell garbage trucks with funding from the EU’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology for heavy vehicles is still not fully developed, and experience in electric passenger vehicles can prove beneficial in this space, which both Daimler and Volvo already have.
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