Renault vans and Plug Power of the US, a global leader in fuel cell systems and hydrogen-related services have recently signed Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) launching joint venture (JV) company aiming to become the leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology in light commercial vehicles (LCVs) sector.
About the deal
This partnership which will be based in France, will launch in the middle of 2021 and its hoping to enable the two companies to be at the forefront of research and development, transformation, manufacturing and sale of fuel cell-powered vehicles and hydrogen turn-key solutions.
Bringing the strengths of both organisations together, the partnership will combine Groupe Renault’s pioneering experience in new and sustainable energies as well as its strong position in electric light commercial vehicles with Plug Power’s 20 years of experience in fuel cell technologies and hydrogen solutions.
Who are Plug Power?
Plug Power are basically a US “full service” hydrogen ecosystems company that have full has deployed more than 40,000 fuel cell systems, designed and built 110 refuelling stations dispensing more than 40 tonnes of hydrogen daily, and is a technology leader in green hydrogen solutions via electrolysis.
Who does what in the partnership
They will jointly establish an Innovation Centre for the development of fuel cell technology and hydrogen fuel cell based on existing and future Groupe Renault platforms. The initial focus will be on the heavy van segment utilising the Trafic and Master platforms and will be unique in combining hydrogen fuel cell R&D expertise and vehicles with integrated engineering teams.
The joint venture will combine the vehicle manufacturing capabilities of Groupe Renault with Plug Powers fuel cell and hydrogen system manufacturing knowledge. A vertically integrated fuel cell stack and system manufacturing centre in France will be established as well as providing hydrogen refuelling systems.
As far as sales are concerned a comprehensive ecosystem of support will be created, offering vehicles, hydrogen fuelling stations, hydrogen fuel and services to customers. Sales of fuel cell LCVs in Europe starting in 2021 with pilot fleet deployments.
Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault, said: “This joint-venture project is fully aligned with our strategy to offer market ready hydrogen solutions for LCVs. With Plug Power, we will build a unique end-to-end fuel cell value chain and offer turn-key solutions for customers including vehicles, refueling 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”.
Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power, said: “Plug Power prides itself on being at the leading edge of innovation in the hydrogen fuel cell industry, which is why we are thrilled to partner with Groupe Renault to become a leader of market fuel cell heavy vans in Europe. We look forward to working with our new partners to combine our technology with their decades long experience leading the European automotive market.”
Looking at the statement this is an excellent opportunity for Renault to steal a march on its competitors in Europe and for Plug Power to gain a foothold in the lucrative European LCV sector. Reading between the lines they are focussing on the European fleet market but competing with battery electric vans isn’t going to be easy and therefore the sector could become similar to the heavy truck market road map. As with all transitioning solutions their success will be judged by its operational and financial pros and con’s !