ElringKlinger and Plastic Omnium are joining forces in fuel cell technology to accelerate the development of hydrogen mobility. To achieve this goal, the two companies will establish the EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies joint venture for the development, large-scale production and marketing of fuel cell stacks.
++ This article has been updated, please see below for the latest news. ++
According to the German company, ErlingKlinger will hold 60 per cent of EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies and Plastic Omnium 40 per cent of the shares. The joint venture will be based at ElringKlinger’s headquarters in Dettingen/Erms. Plastic Omnium, based in France, will also acquire the Austrian subsidiary ElringKlinger Fuelcell Systems Austria GmbH (EKAT), which specializes in fuel cell system solutions, to complement its global hydrogen strategy.
For ElringKlinger, the joint venture is a major step forward, as it will not only involve joint development work since the Dettingen-based company will contribute all of its assets relating to fuel cell stacks that have been developed over more than 20 years. This would involve more than 150 employees, more than 150 patents, the know-how, the components business and the fuel cell stack platforms that are already being marketed. Since these products are manufactured at the Dettingen plant, the location was an obvious choice as headquarters for the new company.
Stefan Wolf and Laurent Favre, the two CEOs of the companies, set the goal of “developing the potential of hydrogen on the mass market and contributing to CO2-neutral mobility”. The stacks and components for cars, commercial vehicles such as buses and trucks, and other mobility applications are to be marketed. “Plastic Omnium and ElringKlinger have been strongly investing over the years to develop their respective expertise in hydrogen technology”, the two CEOs are quoted as saying. “We aim to unlock the mass market potential for hydrogen and contribute to CO2-neutral mobility”.
The companies say that by 2030, EKPO should be able to achieve a market share of 10 to 15 per cent in the fuel cell technology sector and thus achieve sales of between 700 million and one billion euros.
Both the foundation of EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies and the acquisition of EKAT, which is valued at 15 million euros, were submitted to the competition authorities. The deal is supposed to close in the first quarter of 2021.
The joint venture with Plastic Omnium is already the second joint venture within the fuel cell segment, following one that ElringKlinger announced in October when they announced the establishment of a joint venture with Airbus. This cooperation is set to develop and validate fuel cell stacks suitable for use in aviation.
Update 01 March 2021: EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, the joint venture of ElringKlinger (60%) and Plastic Omnium (40%), is now ready to start operations.
The new company will focus on fuel cells for commercial vehicles and buses and then on passenger cars. EKPO also sees potential for growth in “special vehicles” as well as trains and ships.
Their site in Dettingen, Germany, already has a capacity for 10,000 fuel cell stacks per year and key components of a stack, such as bipolar plates or media modules. In the coming years, EKPO says they will drive investments for accelerating innovation, extending the commercial pipeline, and increasing production capacity as they aim for a market share of 10 to 15% in 2030.