EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, a joint venture between ElringKlinger and Plastic Omnium, has agreed to a partnership with German-Chinese system integrator DR Powertrain System to jointly develop fuel cell systems with EKPO stacks for the Chinese market.
DR Powertrain Systems intends to integrate the German-made stacks into systems from local manufacturers for automotive and non-automotive applications. The supply agreement between EKPO and DR Powertrain is just the beginning of a closer partnership that “will target numerous application areas in the Chinese market”, according to EKPO shareholder ElringKlinger. Against this backdrop, EKPO’s Chinese site in Suzhou, with its proximity to Shanghai, is to serve as a hub for further FC activities in Asia – specifically, EKPO says it is aiming to expand its business “in the field of engineering, testing and production of small series for the Asian region”.
From the future, however, back to the present: the NM5 and NM12 stacks from EKPO’s portfolio are to serve as the basis for the duo’s current collaboration. According to the press release, these have a power density of up to 6.2 kW/l in the cell block and an output of up to 205 kW in pressurised mode. DR Powertrain intends to offer a new generation of system solutions based on the stacks. The company is a Chinese-German joint venture with headquarters in Jiaxing. The manufacturer has already started series production of fuel cell systems with an output of 5 to 120 kW and core Balance-of-Plant (BOP) components.
In its statement, ElringKlinger stressed that DR Powertrain had already completed development and vehicle integration for several fuel cell vehicles together with Chinese and international premium manufacturers. “With DR Powertrain, we are pleased to have joined forces with a partner with high technology demands and broad market access,” emphasises Julien Etienne, responsible for sales on the EKPO management board. “Together, we are now working towards further contracts for cars and other applications. China is an important future market for us to contribute to modern mobility with our stack technologies.”
Dr Haiyu Gao, deputy general manager of DR Powertrain and responsible for sales, emphasises that DR Powertrain and EKPO have already worked very well together on passenger car projects for various Chinese premium vehicle manufacturers, as a result of which “the excellent technology and product characteristics are widely recognised”. He said that through the cooperation that has now been agreed, the two companies aim to offer a new generation of system solutions and bring the performance advantages of their own BOP components to the table. “The cooperation with EKPO will enable both companies to gather stronger R&D and production capabilities, bring higher integration and cost-effective products to users, and provide timely service support,” Gao said.
EKPO describes itself as a full-range supplier of fuel cell stacks and components with a focus on the passenger car, light commercial vehicle, truck and bus markets. The joint venture was established in October 2020, with ElringKlinger holding 60% and French company Plastic Omnium 40% of the Dettingen/Erms-based firm near Reutlingen. According to its own information, the joint venture currently has a production capacity of initially up to 10,000 stacks annually, which is to be “gradually expanded in line with the order book”.
At the IAA Mobility in Munich, EKPO put three next-generation fuel cell stack platforms in the spotlight as recently as September. In addition, this year the joint venture received, among other things, an order from the Aachen-based mobility company AE Driven Solutions (AEDS), which ordered stacks of the type NM5-EVO for a high double-digit million euro amount.
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