Renault Targets Hydrogen LCV Infrastructure

Renault has entered a joint venture to accelerate the roll-out of hydrogen fuel infrastructure in its domestic French market.

The automaker has joined hydrogen and fuel cell specialist, Plug Power, in launching a new company called HYVIA. The name, cobbled up from ‘hy’ for hydrogen and the Latin word ‘via’ for road, is hoping to embody the view that hydrogen fuel cells offer the best energy “solution for commercial vehicles such as LCVs that require greater range and shorter refueling time to meet operational demands”, the company said in a statement.

HYVIA’s activities will be carried out at existing Renault facilities in France:

  • Head office and the R&D teams will be located at Villiers-Saint-Frédéric, with the light commercial vehicle engineering and development center for Renault;
  • Process, manufacturing and logistics teams will be based in Flins and plan to begin the assembly of fuel cells and recharging stations by end of 2021;
  • The first vehicles, based on Renault Master, will be assembled at the Batilly plant;
  • Fuel cell integration will be carried out by PVI, a subsidiary of Renault since 2017, located in Gretz-Armainvilliers.

Renault claims the company’s hydrogen technology will couple with its E-Tech electrified powertrains, increasing vehicle range to 310 miles with rapid recharging time of three minutes. It says these advantages are well-suited to certain uses of LCVs while also addressing the regulatory challenges of decarbonizing city centers.

The first three fuel cell vehicles brought to market will be based on the Renault Master platform and should be available in Europe by end of 2021. It will be accompanied with the deployment of charging stations and the supply of green hydrogen for a van, a chassis cab for large volumes and a city bus version.

Luca de Meo, CEO Renault Group, said: “This joint venture integrates the entire hydrogen mobility ecosystem in a unique way, from the vehicle to infrastructure and turnkey services for customers. The development of this cutting-edge technology will enable us to strengthen our industrial base and set up new value-generating activities in France in this promising segment.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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