Renault is partnering with fuel cell systems specialist Plug Power to develop fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles and hydrogen turn-key solutions.
The two firms have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding to launch a 50-50 joint-venture by the end of the first half of 2021; the plan is to become the European leader in fuel cell LCVs.
Based in France, the JV will cover the research, development, manufacturing and sale of fuel cell-powered vehicles and hydrogen turn-key solutions in the coming years – the two firms are planning to take more than a 30% share of the fuel cell-powered light commercial vehicle market in Europe.
The tie-up will include the creation of an Innovation Center for the development of fuel cell technology and hydrogen fuel cell LCV vehicles based on existing and future Renault platforms – initially using the Trafic and Master vehicle platform.
It will also develop a vertically integrated fuel cell stack and system manufacturing centre in France, drawing on Renault’s background, along with the fuel cell and hydrogen system manufacturing knowledge of Plug Power.
Pilot fleet deployments of the fuel cell LCVs will start in Europe in 2021.
Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault, said: “This joint-venture project is fully aligned with our strategy to offer market ready H2 solutions for LCVs. With Plug Power, we will build a unique end-to-end fuel cell value chain and offer turnkey solutions for customers including vehicles, refuelling stations and decarbonised hydrogen delivery. With this project, our ambition is to position France as a bridgehead of industrial, technical and commercial development in this key technology, and to strengthen our leadership in Europe as our objective is to become the European leader in fuel cell LCV.”
Renault announced plans in October 2019 to introduce hydrogen range-extender versions of its Kangoo and Master vans, bringing around three times more range than the current electric versions and developed in partnership with Symbio, a Groupe Michelin subsidiary.
The JV is subject to clearance, including from the relevant competition authorities.