Vehicle supplier Michelin has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Faurecia to form a joint venture in the field of hydrogen development.
The French venture is named ‘Symbio, A Faurecia Michelin Hydrogen Company’ and will be owned equally by the two companies. It will develop, produce and market hydrogen fuel cell systems for light vehicles, utility vehicles, trucks and other applications. The aim is for the two partners to draw on their respective experience to create a ‘major player’ in the hydrogen market.
For electric vehicles, fuel cell technology complements battery technology, especially in those use cases requiring very intense use and greater autonomy. Furthermore, fuel cell technology has recently been selected by the European Union as one of the six ‘Important Projects of Common Interest’.
Michelin’s contribution to this joint venture will be the activities of Symbio, a Group subsidiary since 1 February and a supplier of hydrogen fuel cell systems associated with a range of digital services, as well as research & development and production activities.
Faurecia will contribute the technological fuel cell expertise it has developed through a strategic partnership with the CEA, its industrial expertise and its strategic relationships with car manufacturers. Faurecia will continue its development of high-pressure hydrogen tanks in partnership with Stelia Aerospace Composites, which will also benefit the joint venture.
‘This innovative partnership will facilitate the emergence and development of hydrogen mobility: it opens the way to a new form of sustainable mobility. The ultimate aim is to develop a complete mobility offer for hydrogen vehicles, from fuel cells to maintenance services,’ said Florent Menegaux, general managing partner and future president of the Michelin Group
‘Our shared vision, as well as the complementarity of our technological know-how, will accelerate the market launch of efficient fuel cell systems adapted to different use cases,’ added Patrick Koller, CEO of Faurecia. ‘Our joint ambition is to create a centre of excellence for hydrogen mobility in France through the gradual combination of our activities.’
Both partners are also involved in an initiative by the French Government to prepare the country’s domestic automotive industry for disruptive technologies, such as electrification and autonomous driving. Hydrogen power is another example, with manufacturers starting to develop systems, albeit slowly due to the need for immediate low and zero-emission technology that electrification offers.
The news follows the announcement of a new venture to develop hydrogen mobility in Paris, in which Japanese manufacturer Toyota is involved. The joint venture covers two activities: the distribution of hydrogen and the development of mobility-related applications, with each stakeholder bringing its expertise to the project. The plans are for 600 hydrogen taxi-based vehicles to operate in the region by the end of 2020 and for an additional 500 Toyota Mirai models on the streets by this time too.