Daimler has taken an organisational step towards a commercial vehicle fuel cell joint venture with Volvo Trucks: In the newly founded Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG, all of the Group’s fuel cell activities will now be bundled together.
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Andreas Gorbach (45) and Christian Mohrdieck (60) have been appointed as managing directors of the new company, as Daimler announces in a press release. In April, Daimler Trucks and the Volvo Group signed a preliminary, non-binding agreement to establish a new joint venture for the development, production and marketing of fuel cell systems for use in heavy-duty commercial vehicles, among other things. The future focus of fuel cells on commercial vehicles is tantamount to the discontinuation of the FCEV in Daimler’s passenger car division, the Mercedes GLC F-Cell.
The newly founded Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG that has now been established will initially bundle all Group-wide fuel cell activities, including the former Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH. Later, the company is to be transferred to the planned joint venture. The Volvo Group will acquire 50 per cent of the company, according to Daimler.
With “later”, however, the Group remains vague about a possible date for the establishment of the joint venture: all potential transactions are subject to examination and approval by the responsible competition authorities. The declared goal of the two groups is “to offer heavy fuel cell commercial vehicles for demanding and heavy long-distance traffic in series production in the second half of the decade”.
Martin Daum, a member of the Daimler Group Board of Management and Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG, describes the new subsidiary as the “immediate predecessor organisation of the joint venture. “In it, we will now bundle the great competence and the enormous wealth of experience from several decades of development work on fuel cells at Daimler – and combine it with the right know-how in trucks,” says Daum.
The two managing directors of Daimler Truck Fuel Cell are already working on the topic of fuel cells. Mohrdieck is currently Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH and has been head of fuel cell development at the Daimler Group since 2003. Gorbach has been responsible for all fuel cell topics at Daimler Truck AG since May.
However, it is not yet known what the management of the joint venture will look like after the merger with Volvo Trucks.
Update 30 June 2020: In preparation for the series production of fuel cells with the newly founded Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH & Co. KG, Daimler is investing in new facilities that cover every process stage of fuel cell production: “from membrane coating to stack production and fuel cell aggregate construction,” the company writes in a press release.
The production of the “highly sensitive fuel cell stacks” is not possible with “classical industrial production processes”, as the processing of the filigree components is partly done in the micrometer range. However, Daimler cites the short cycle time of production as a greater challenge than the known clean room conditions, “which is, however, indispensable for economical production”. Inspiration for some processes is said to have come from the packaging industry.