The German automotive supplier ElringKlinger and the Dutch vehicle manufacturer VDL Bus & Coach have agreed on a strategic partnership for fuel cell technology.
The cooperation agreement provides for the development and industrialisation of fuel cell stacks and systems for mobile and stationary applications. This is the third collaboration on fuel cells announced by ElringKlinger in the last four weeks.
In mid-October, the supplier announced its intention to set up a joint venture with Airbus for the purpose of jointly developing fuel cell stacks for aviation applications. At the end of October, ElringKlinger then announced the establishment of a joint venture with the French group Plastic Omnium. ElringKlinger intends to contribute all its assets relating to fuel cell stacks to the EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies joint venture, also relevant to the cooperation with VDL that has now been announced.
According to ElringKlinger AG, its collaboration with VDL will focus on “customer-specific development and production of fuel cell stacks”, while VDL will be responsible for system integration into its vehicles as well as testing. Corresponding fuel cell systems are to be brought to production maturity as early as next year; the cooperation agreement is therefore only valid until 2021.
ElringKlinger says that: “Subsequently, concrete customer projects are already planned and under negotiation, which are to be signed before the cooperation agreement expires” – the cooperation could thus extend beyond 2021. The fuel cells are to be used in a variety of applications such as power generators, hybrid vehicles or vehicles with range extenders.
“With this cooperation, we are not only intensifying our collaboration with VDL in fuel cell technology but also creating the basis for further developing hydrogen-based drive technologies for heavy-duty mobility,” says Armin Diez, Vice President Fuel Cell at ElringKlinger. “Together with our contractual partner, we are working towards establishing the fuel cell as a pioneering drive technology within the commercial vehicle sector over the coming years.” Henk Coppens, CEO of VDL Bus & Coach BV, adds: “As a pioneer in the field of sustainable mobility solutions, VDL Bus & Coach is firmly convinced that hydrogen will become an important and strategic part of our portfolio”.
As ElringKlinger reveals, the subsidiary ElringKlinger Fuelcell Systems Austria GmbH (EKAT) will also be part of the cooperation, EKAT will contribute experience in the field of complete fuel cell systems. EKAT’s involvement is important because it means that Plastic Omnium will also become part of the cooperation between ElringKlinger and VDL in the future: The French company will take over EKAT as part of the cooperation with the German supplier. When the deal is expected to be concluded at the beginning of 2021, Plastic Omnium will also be involved in the VDL joint venture.
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