Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group have unveiled plans for a new fuel cell joint venture (JV) – cellcentric – as part of an industry-first commitment to accelerate the use of hydrogen-based fuel cells for long-haul trucks.
The cellcentric JV will build one of Europe’s largest planned series production of fuel cell systems, with operation planned to commence in 2025. To accelerate the rollout of hydrogen-based fuel cells, the two cellcentric shareholders are calling for a harmonized EU hydrogen policy framework to support the technology in becoming a viable commercial solution.
Designed to help meet the 2050 targets of sustainable transport and a carbon-neutral Europe as part of the European Green Deal, cellcentric will develop, produce and commercialize fuel-cell systems for both long-haul trucking and other applications. The JV says it can draw on decades of expertise and development work from both Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group.
According to Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group, purely battery-electric and hydrogen-based fuel cell trucks will complement each other depending on the individual customer use case. Battery power is better suited 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.
“Our united ambition is to meet the targets in the Paris agreement of becoming CO2-neutral by 2050 at the latest,” says Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo Group. “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.”
The major truck manufacturers in Europe, also backed by Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group, are therefore calling for the setup of around 300 high-performance hydrogen refueling stations suitable for heavy-duty vehicles by 2025 and of around 1,000 hydrogen refueling stations no later than 2030 in Europe. This joint initiative, using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations, is one important part of decarbonizing road transport.
As CO2-neutral trucks are currently significantly more expensive than conventional vehicles, a policy framework is needed to ensure demand and affordability. According to Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group, this should include incentives for CO2-neutral technologies and a taxation system based on carbon and energy content. An emissions trading system could be an additional option.
Currently, cellcentric is conceptualizing the plans for its large-scale series production. More details and a decision on the location will be revealed over the course of 2022. As a significant step towards series production, 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.
Daimler Truck AG’s and Volvo Group’s 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.