Truck­ing gi­ants in fuel cell JV

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Front Page -

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

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