Picture: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE
Picture: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

Frankfurt — Global heavy-truck rivals Daimler and Volvo Group have kicked off a joint venture for hydrogen-powered fuel cell stacks, seeking to advance a technology that’s been in development for decades but has suffered from high costs and patchy infrastructure.

The two companies want to become a fuel-cell leader and plan to start ramping up production in Europe in 2025, they said on  Thursday at the launch of their Cellcentric venture announced a year ago.

“Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric trucks will be key for enabling carbon dioxide-neutral transportation in the future,” Daimler truck chief Martin Daum said in a statement. “Battery-electric trucks alone will not make this possible.”

Road haulage is still dominated by diesel trucks, but stricter regulation is forcing manufacturers to accelerate a shift towards cleaner engines. That’s boosted efforts by incumbents and Tesla to work on battery-electric trucks, which many companies forecast to be rolled out faster and on a much broader scale than fuel-cell stacks.

The industry’s two largest manufacturers joining forces on fuel cells will raise the bar for peers such as Paccar or Volkswagen’s Traton. Parts giant Robert Bosch co-operated with start-up Nikola Motor and forged a fuel-cell joint venture with Qingling Motors in China.

When Daimler and Volvo announced the 50-50 joint venture a year ago, they signaled a plan to explore options beyond the use on highways, such as stationary power generation.

So far, the lack of infrastructure remains a major roadblock. Daimler, Volvo and other European peers have called for the creation of 300, high-performance hydrogen refueling stations for heavy-duty vehicles by 2025.

Bloomberg News. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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