Renault and hydrogen specialist Plug Power plan JV to produce fuel cell light commercial vehicles in Europe

Renault and US-based Plug Power have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to launch a 50-50 joint-venture based in France by the end of the first half of 2021. The planned JV will perform R&D, manufacturing and sales of fuel cell-powered vehicles and hydrogen turn-key solutions in Europe.

The French carmaker’s JV with the Nasdaq-listed hydrogen fuel cell specialist aims to roll out fuel cell light commercial vehicles, taxis, and commercial people transportation.

The companies say that the partnership will build on Renault’s pioneering experience in new energies and strong position in electric LCVs, and on Plug Power’s 20 years of experience in fuel cell tech and hydrogen solutions. In that time, Plug Power has deployed over 40,000 fuel cell systems, and designed and built 110 refuelling stations that dispense more than 40 tonnes of hydrogen daily. It claims to be a tech leader in green hydrogen solutions via electrolysis.

Renault and hydrogen specialist Plug Power plan JV to produce fuel cell light commercial vehicles in Europe

The JV will set up an Innovation Center for the development of fuel cell tech and hydrogen fuel cell LCVs based on existing and future Renault platforms. The initial focus will be on the heavy van segment with the Renault Trafic and Master as base points.

The partners also plan to establish a vertically integrated fuel cell stack and system manufacturing centre in France for integration into LCV vehicle platforms. In addition, this manufacturing facility will provide hydrogen refuelling systems, a key part of the hydrogen ecosystem. The JV will start commercialising fuel cell LCVs in Europe starting this year with pilot fleet deployments.

“This JV is fully aligned with our strategy to offer market ready H2 solutions for LCVs. With Plug Power, we will build a unique end-to-end fuel cell value chain and offer turnkey solutions for customers including vehicles, refuelling stations and decarbonised hydrogen delivery,” said Renault CEO Luca de Meo.

“With this project, our ambition is to position France as a bridgehead of industrial, technical and commercial development in this key technology, and to strengthen our leadership in Europe as our objective is to become the European leader in fuel cell LCV,” he declared.

“Plug Power prides itself on being at the leading edge of innovation in the hydrogen fuel cell industry, which is why we are thrilled to partner with Renault to become a leader of market fuel cell heavy vans in Europe. We look forward to working with our new partners to combine our technology with their decades long experience leading the European automotive market,” added Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power.

Both parties will provide the stand-alone JV company with the required resources to achieve its objectives. The usual conditions apply, such as the green light from employee representative bodies in accordance with applicable regulations and clearance from relevant competition authorities.

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