Trucking giants in fuel cell JV
IN A SURPRISE MOVE, RIVAL TRUCK manufacturers the Volvo Group and Daimler Truck have joined forces to develop large-scale production of fuel cells.
They will be 50/50 partners in the joint venture, which will operate as an independent and autonomous entity – with both “continuing to be competitors in all other areas of business,” they say in announcing the unusual collaboration.
Joining forces, they explain, “will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems in products used for heavy-duty transport and demanding long-haul applications.
“The common goal is for both companies to offer heavy-duty vehicles with fuel cells for demanding long-haul applications in series production in the second half of the decade.”
The two trucking giants add: “In the context of the current economic downturn, co-operation has become even more necessary in order to meet the Green Deal objectives (which call for sustainable transport and a carbon neutral Europe by 2050) within a feasible timeframe.
They say that the JV is founded by their shared vision for sustainable transport – and a belief that “successful commercialisation of fuel cell technology is a key area to achieve CO2-neutral transport.”
The two companies signed a preliminary nonbinding agreement to establish the JV – Daimler adding that it will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities into the partnership.
The Volvo Group will contribute the equivalent of around $NZ1billion for its 50% share in the JV.
Daimler Truck board of management chairman Martin Daum says of the deal – a “milestone” in bringing fuel cell-powered trucks and buses onto our roads: “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 drivetrains with energy coming either from batteries or by converting hydrogen on board into electricity. For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer and a technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades.”
Volvo Group president and CEO Martin Lundstedt says: “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.”
A final agreement on the JV is expected by the end of the third quarter.
Above: A German assembly line for fuel cell drive units Below: Daimler Truck boss Martin Daum (left) and Volvo Group president and CEO Martin Lundstedt