Volvo and Daimler signed a preliminary agreement last year to co-operate on fuel cell systems. The JV has now launched under the name Cellcentric.
Cellcentric plans to develop, produce and commercialise fuel-cell systems, with operation planned to start in 2025.
The plan is to use battery power for lower cargo weights and for shorter distances, while fuel-cell power will tend to be the preferred option for heavier loads and longer distances, they said.
Preparations for pre-series production are taking place at a new site in Esslingen near Stuttgart. In parallel, Cellcentric is scaling up on-going prototype output.
The goal is to start with customer tests of fuel-cell trucks in about three years and to be in series production of fuel-cell trucks during the second half of this decade. All vehicle-related activities are carried out independently from each other, as both companies remain competitors in all vehicle and product ranges, and particularly in fuel-cell integration solutions for all products.
Martin Daum, chairman of Daimler Truck, said: “Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric trucks will be key for enabling CO2-neutral transportation in the future. In combination with pure battery-electric drives, it enables us to offer our customers the best genuinely locally CO2-neutral vehicle options, depending on the application. Battery-electric trucks alone will not make this possible. Together with our partner Volvo Group, we are therefore fully committed to our fuel-cell joint venture Cellcentric and we are both pushing forward the development of the technology as well as the series production preparations. Regarding the necessary hydrogen infrastructure, it is clear that green hydrogen is the only sensible way forward in the long term.”
Volvo Group chief executive Martin Lundstedt said: “Our united ambition is to meet the targets in the Paris agreement of becoming CO2-neutral by 2050 at the latest. We are convinced that hydrogen fuel-cell technology plays an essential role in helping us reach that milestone. But we know there is so much more to achieve than just the electrification of machines and vehicles. There needs to be greater cooperation between public and private stakeholders to develop the necessary technology and infrastructure, which is why we are calling for united action from policymakers and governments around the world in helping us make hydrogen fuel-cell technology a success. Partnerships like Cellcentric are vital to our commitment to decarbonizing road transport.”
Major truck manufacturers in Europe, including Daimler and Volvo, are calling on EU leaders to support the setup of around 300 high-performance hydrogen refuelling stations suitable for heavy-duty vehicles by 2025 and of around 1,000 hydrogen refuelling stations no later than 2030 in Europe.