An unofficial fuel cell alliance is forming in France as Faurecia will supply hydrogen tanks for the new fleet of FC commercial vehicles Renault plans to launch at the end of this year. Faurecia will design and manufacture these tanks in France and is already preparing for expansion.
Faurecia will manufacture the first batch for Renault at its ‘Competence Centre’ in French Bavans. They also announced plans to ramp-up once volumes increase and are building a new plant in Allenjoie.
The order sits on Renault’s recent announcement to enter hydrogen in the light commercial vehicle segment. Renault and fuel cell specialist Plug Power also plan to establish a 50:50 joint venture that seeks completion by mid-2021. They target to hold a market share of 30 per cent in Europe, Gilles le Borgne, Executive VP of Renault Engineering, emphasised again today. “It supports the ambition shared with our partner Plug Power to build a unique end-to-end green hydrogen and fuel cell value chain and new value-generating activities in France,” he added.
While Plug Power is based in New York, the JV wants to build innovation and manufacturing capacity in France for fuel cell systems and their integration into vehicles. The original announcement this January figured a vertically integrated manufacturing centre for fuel cell stacks and systems in the country, and the plan appears to hold.
Renault already made advances in the sector in 2019 as they began to equip the Kangoo ZE and Master ZE vans with fuel cells to extend their range.
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For the new joint venture, the strategy appears a similar one of conversion with Renault wanting to focus on the heavy van segment, based on the Trafic and Master vehicle platforms. Renault CEO Luca de Meo said that the joint venture project was fully in line with Renault’s strategy to provide fuel cell solutions for LCV.
And for Faurecia? Renault’s fellow French manufacturer has been very busy. They opened the Bavan centre last October after having invested 25 million euros. The company wants to develop lightweight and cost-effective tanks and systems here to promote hydrogen mobility.
Or to promote it further. Faurecia has already started manufacturing hydrogen storage systems for heavy-duty trucks and light commercial vehicle fleets for several international OEMs. One of them is Hyundai that relies on the French for the XCient fuel cell trucks.
The supplier had also announced new cooperation only three days ago: Faurecia now holds a majority stake in CLD, one of China’s largest manufacturers of high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The French company is betting on further growth of the hydrogen market in China. Faurecia also formed a fuel cell joint venture with Michelin called Symbio in 2019.
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