Ballard & Mahle to industrialise fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles

German automotive supplier Mahle and the Canadian fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power Systems have agreed to jointly develop and mass-produce fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles of various weight classes.

++ This article has been updated. Kindly continue reading below. ++

The long-term goal of the cooperation between Mahle and Ballard is to produce complete fuel cell systems for the European, North American and Asian markets. During the first phase of the collaboration, Ballard will be primarily responsible for system design around the fuel cell stack, while Mahle will contribute its expertise in thermal management, air management, power electronics and packaging.

The German supplier has already been a series supplier for fuel cell vehicles for a relatively long time considering the industry is fairly young and is particularly strong in the fields of thermal and air management as well as filtration. “Climate-neutral hydrogen is the energy carrier of the future and, at the same time, key for the achievement of climate targets for medium and heavy commercial vehicles,” Dr Jörg Stratmann, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management, is convinced. “Through our cooperation with Ballard, we will provide a strong stimulus to the development of fuel cell drives that are suitable for large-scale production”.

Meanwhile, Ballard Power Systems has also announced that it will increase its production capacity for membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) in Vancouver six-fold from early 2021 to meet the expected growth in FC commercial vehicles. The Canadian company plans to produce six million MEAs annually, which, according to the company, corresponds to a capacity of around 1.66 gigawatts.

Dr Lee Sweetland, Ballard Director of Advanced Manufacturing explained, “Capacity expansion is being enabled in part through investment in advanced manufacturing technology, together with the extensive use of automation and in-line quality control to drive high yields for product assembly. We are also integrating systems, from the supply chain throughout our manufacturing process, including a Manufacturing Execution System to enhance available data and streamline production.”

Just a couple of weeks ago Ballard Power Systems presented a new PEM fuel cell stack called FCgen-HPS, which the Group has developed as part of its cooperation with Audi and which is suitable for a range of commercial vehicles but can also be installed in ships, rail and aviation vehicles.

Update 21 January 2022

The cooperation agreed in 2020 between Mahle and Ballard Power Systems for the joint development of fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles is entering the next round. This week, a new fuel cell with 120 kilowatts of power for medium to heavy commercial vehicles arrived at Mahle’s hydrogen test centre in Stuttgart – Mahle had opened the test centre in March 2021, i.e. after the start of the original cooperation.

According to the German supplier, it will now use the 120-kW fuel cell to further test how Mahle can develop a holistic system with its components that creates ideal working conditions for the fuel cell.

This involves the right temperature, humidity or even the inflow of air and hydrogen, as well as many other factors that have to be continuously regulated and analysed, as Mahle explains. “Only in this way can the fuel cell work efficiently and permanently – and is thus suitable for demanding use in commercial vehicles,” the statement says., (MEAs), update via email


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