Volvo and Daimler Join Trucking Fuel Cell Push

Trucking giants Volvo and Daimler are joining forces to accelerate the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell heavy duty vehicles for the European market.

Inspired by Europe’s Green Deal initiative to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, the pair have signed a non-binding joint venture agreement to develop, produce and commercialize fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicle applications among other products. Daimler will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities in the joint venture. The Volvo Group will acquire 50% in the joint venture for the sum of approximately $651M 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 hoping to decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems for heavy-duty transport and demanding long-haul applications.

In a statement the companies said that, with the current economic downturn, cooperation has become even more necessary in order to meet the Green Deal objectives within a feasible time-frame. The pair are hoping to offer heavy-duty vehicles with fuel cells for demanding long-haul applications in series production by the second half of this decade.

To enable the joint venture, Daimler Trucks is bringing together all group-wide fuel cell activities in a new Daimler Truck fuel cell unit. Part of this bundling of activities is the allocation of the operations of “Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH”, which has longstanding experience in the development of fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems for various vehicle applications, to Daimler Truck 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.

Martin Daum, chairman of the board of management Daimler Truck AG and member of the board of management of Daimler AG, said: “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 on board into electricity. For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer.”

Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group president and CEO, added: “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.”

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

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