Daimler Truck of Germany and Volvo Group of Sweden have concluded a non-binding agreement to form a Joint Venture for development of fuel cell technologies for heavy commercial vehicles and allied uses. The JV will be a 50:50 venture where in Volvo will invest Euro 600 Million and Daimler Truck will transfer the complete Fuel Cell development facilities of the group.

Image Courtesy Daimler Trucks

There is a vision for a carbon neutral Europe by 2050. A major component of the vision is the move from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. These electric vehicles may be powered by either batteries or using hydrogen fuel cells to generate the requisite electricity onboard. Heavy vehicles have a quick turnaround requirement. They also need long range. In such a scenario, hydrogen fuel cells are considered more appropriate propulsion system.

Mercedes Benz and Daimler Truck have developed significant technical capability in hydrogen fuel cell. However, for commercialisation of the technology a large funding is required. In view of the existing economic conditions, it may not be feasible for one company to proceed ahead in such uncharted territories. Volvo Group and Daimler Truck have thus come together to form a 50:50 JV for development and commercialisation of the hydrogen fuel cell technology for heavy commercial vehicles.

Image Courtesy Daimler Trucks

While Volvo will invest Euro 600 Million, Daimler Trucks will transfer the Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH to the JV. The Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH will bring together all group-wide fuel cell activities in a new Daimler Truck fuel cell unit. 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. For all other activities in the truck business, the two companies will continue to compete with each other in the various existing and future markets.

“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 and a technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades. This joint initiative with the Volvo Group is a milestone in bringing fuel cell powered trucks and buses onto our roads,” says Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler Truck AG and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.

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“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,” says Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group President and CEO.