The Volvo Group announced its next step in the push for a carbon-neutral shipping network yesterday when it announced it was buying into Daimler’s fuel cell technology for heavy trucks to the tune of some $650 million.
Daimler is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Mitsubishi Fuso, and Torc robotics (among others). As such, it is one of the largest players in the shipping space anywhere — and a bona fide leader in the fuel cell space, despite some of the problems therein. It’s no wonder, then, that Volvo would seek Daimler out as a partner while it takes steps to reduce its carbon footprint even further.
For its part, Daimler will benefit from Volvo’s advances in vehicle autonomy and connectivity as it pushes towards what it calls “the next evolutionary step” of emission-free, automated, and connected driving.
“Transport and logistics keep the world moving, and the need for transport will continue to grow,” explains Martin Daum, the Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler Truck AG. “Truly CO2-neutral transport can be accomplished through electric drive trains with energy coming either from batteries or by converting hydrogen on board into electricity. For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer and a technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades.”
The $650 million from Volvo will go towards the creation of a new JV that will be half owned by Daimler Trucks and half owned by Volvo Trucks. And if you’re surprised Volvo would make a move towards fuel cells after its cars division has been so directly “against” them for so long, well, it seems like that was a bit expected. “By forming this joint venture, we are clearly showing that we believe in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles,” says Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group President and CEO. “But for this vision to become reality, other companies and institutions also need to support and contribute to this development, not least in order to establish the fuel infrastructure needed,” he offers as (what sounds like) justification for the JV. Many others have seen a potential future for hydrogen-powered heavy-duty transport who don’t see it as viable for cars.
What do you guys think? Is this a step backwards for Volvo, or is this a practical way to cut emissions in its logistics operations without starting from zero? Read the official press release below, then let us know what you think in the comments.
The Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG to lead the development of sustainable transportation by forming joint venture for large-scale production of fuel cells
Sharing the Green Deal vision of sustainable transport and a carbon neutral Europe by 2050, two leading companies in the commercial vehicle industry, Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group, have signed a preliminary non-binding agreement to establish a new joint venture. The intention is to develop, produce and commercialize fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicle applications and other use cases. Daimler will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities in the joint venture. The Volvo Group will acquire 50% in the joint venture for the sum of approximately EUR 0.6 billion (approx. 650 million USD) on a cash and debt free basis.
“Transport and logistics keep the world moving, and the need for transport will continue to grow. Truly CO2-neutral transport can be accomplished through electric drive trains with energy coming either from batteries or by converting hydrogen on board into electricity. For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer and a technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades. This joint initiative with the Volvo Group is a milestone in bringing fuel cell powered trucks and buses onto our roads,” says Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler Truck AG and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.
“Electrification of road transport is a key element in delivering the so called Green Deal, a carbon neutral Europe and ultimately a carbon neutral world. Using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations is one important part of the puzzle, and a complement to battery electric vehicles and renewable fuels. Combining the Volvo Group and Daimler’s experience in this area to accelerate the rate of development is good both for our customers and for society as a whole. By forming this joint venture, we are clearly showing that we believe in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles. But for this vision to become reality, other companies and institutions also need to support and contribute to this development, not least in order to establish the fuel infrastructure needed,” says Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group President and CEO.
The Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG will be 50/50 partners in the joint venture, which will operate as an independent and autonomous entity, with Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group continuing to be competitors in all other areas of business. Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems in products used for heavy-duty transport and demanding long-haul applications. In the context of the current economic downturn cooperation has become even more necessary in order to meet the Green Deal objectives within a feasible time-frame.
The common goal is for both companies to offer heavy-duty vehicles with fuel cells for demanding long-haul applications in series production in the second half of the decade. In addition, other automotive and non-automotive use cases are also part of the new joint venture’s scope.
To enable the joint venture, Daimler Trucks is bringing together all group-wide fuel cell activities in a new Daimler Truck fuel cell unit. Part of this bundling of activities is the allocation of the operations of “Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH”, which has longstanding experience in the development of fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems for various vehicle applications, to Daimler Truck AG.
The joint venture will include the operations in Nabern/Germany (currently headquarters of the Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH) with production facilities in Germany and Canada.
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