Groupe Renault and Plug Power have formed a joint venture which will introduce a hydrogen fuel cell electric van in 2021, and offer an all-in-one refuelling solution to enable fleets to switch.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in January to launch the company in the first half of the year, combining Groupe Renault’s electric van experience with Plug Power’s 20-year experience of fuel cell technologies and hydrogen solutions. Named ‘HYVIA’ (a contraction of ‘hydrogen’ and ‘via’ – latin for ‘road’), the business will offer turnkey hydrogen fuel cell solutions for fleets.
By the end of 2021, Renault will offer van, chassis cab and minibus versions of the Master fitted with a Plug Power fuel cell system, including management, maintenance and refuelling equipment, supported by a supply of zero-carbon hydrogen. This will offer a range of 300 miles between three-minute fuelling stops, propelled by an electric motor and with only water vapour emitted at the tailpipe.
HYVIA is chaired by David Holderbach, a Groupe Renault employee of 12 years with experience in aftersales and product launches. R&D, manufacturing and fuel cell integration will be carried out at the OEM’s facilities in France. By 2030, HYVIA is targeting a 30% share of the hydrogen light commercial vehicle sector in Europe.
It launches ahead of Euro 7 regulations, due mid-decade, which are expected to require expensive additional after-treatment technologies for diesel engines. Hydrogen offers a solution for long-range fleet requirements where battery weight would compromise the payload, but infrastructure is currently limited.
HYVIA’s plans for the UK are unconfirmed, but Stellantis is considering right hand drive versions of its incoming fuel cell commercial vehicle line-up, and green hydrogen production is a significant component of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan for an Industrial Revolution, announced last November. Vans will have to offer “significant” electric range by 2030 to be sold in the UK, which makes alternatives a requirement.
“This joint venture integrates the entire hydrogen mobility ecosystem in a unique way, from the vehicle to infrastructure and turnkey services for customers. The development of this cutting-edge technology will enable us to strengthen our industrial base and set up new value-generating activities in France in this promising segment”, said Luca de Meo, CEO Renault Group.