Renault’s Bid for Slice of LCV Hydrogen Cake

Renault has set its sights on becoming a major force in van and taxi hydrogen powertrains by teaming up with a fuel cell pioneer.

The automaker has signed a memorandum of understanding with Plug Power, a global fuel cell systems and hydrogen-related services provider, to launch a joint venture providing hydrogen fuel cell solutions for light commercial vehicles (LCVs).

Centered in France, the partnership will launch this summer focusing on research and development, transformation, manufacturing and sale of fuel cell-powered vehicles and hydrogen turn-key solutions.

It is hoped the joint venture will serve a growing demand for fuel cell LCVs, taxis and commercial passenger vehicles which cannot be adequately catered for by BEV technology.  The partnership combines Renault’s experience in sustainable energies and as an establish LCV manufacturer with Plug Power’s two decades experience in fuel cell technologies and hydrogen solutions.

The latter claims to have deployed more than 40,000 fuel cell systems, designed and built 110 refueling stations that dispense more than 40 tons of hydrogen daily and is experieced in green hydrogen solutions via electrolysis. Both companies hope to offer products and solutions to the LCV market, based around three key pillars:

  • Research and Development – an Innovation Center will be created for the development of fuel cell technology and hydrogen fuel cell LCVs based on existing and future Renault platforms. The initial focus will be on the heavy van segment using the Trafic and Master commercial vehicle platforms;
  • Manufacturing – both companies will combine their capabilities and a vertically integrated fuel cell stack and system manufacturing center in France for integration into LCV vehicle platforms will be established. It will also provide hydrogen refueling systems;
  • Sales – to accelerate adoption by commercial fleets, an ecosystem of support will be created offering vehicles, hydrogen fueling stations, hydrogen fuel and services to customers.

Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault, said: “With this project, our ambition is to position France as a bridgehead of industrial, technical and commercial development in this key technology and to strengthen our leadership in Europe as our objective is to become the European leader in fuel cell LCV.”

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

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