Renault targets Europe’s hydrogen commercial vehicle market

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Renault is entering a joint venture with hydrogen solutions developer Plug Power to advance hydrogen mobility in Europe.

The 50-50 JV will undertake R&D and develop state-of-the-art innovation and manufacturing capabilities for hydrogen fuel cell systems and their integration in vehicles.

This will include turn-key fuel cell vehicle solutions, refueling infrastructures and services.

The JV, which will be established in France by mid-2021, is targeting an over 30% share of the fuel cell-powered light commercial vehicle and taxi market in Europe.

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“With Plug Power, we will build a unique end-to-end fuel cell value chain and offer turnkey solutions for customers including vehicles, refueling stations and decarbonized hydrogen delivery,” says Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault.

“With this project, our ambition is to position France as a bridgehead of industrial, technical and commercial development in this key technology.”

For R&D Renault and Plug Power intend to establish an Innovation Centre for the development of fuel cell technology and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles based on existing and future Groupe Renault platforms. The initial focus will be on the heavy van segment.

The JV will combine the vehicle manufacturing capabilities of Groupe Renault with the fuel cell and hydrogen system manufacturing knowledge of Plug Power to establish a vertically integrated fuel cell stack and system manufacturing centre in France for integration into light commercial vehicle platforms.

In addition, this manufacturing centre will provide hydrogen refueling systems.

The partnership will further create a hydrogen vehicle eco-system solution company for sales of vehicles, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and services to customers.

The JV expects to start commercialising fuel cell light commercial vehicles in Europe starting in 2021 with pilot fleet deployments.

The commercial vehicle market is considered the prime one currently for the development of hydrogen mobility. Renault was an early developer of the technology and has been piloting fuel cell vehicles since 2015, along with other manufacturers.

Like the entry of vehicle manufacturers into the new and/or second life battery markets, more of them are likely to actively target the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market.