Stellantis has entered into talks with the French suppliers Faurecia and Michelin to buy a "substantial" stake in their Symbio joint venture, a fuel cell system maker for hydrogen mobility, the three companies said.
Stellantis launched hydrogen-powered midsize vans last year from the Citroen, Peugeot and Opel brands in a collaboration with Symbio. It aims to expand its hydrogen offer to large vans in Europe in 2024 and in the U.S. in 2025, "while further exploring opportunities for heavy-duty trucks."
Automakers and suppliers believe that hydrogen fuel cell systems will take hold first in the commercial vehicle market because there are few filling stations for private cars. In contrast, a fleet operator could install hydrogen stations at its depots, and the vehicles could be refueled at the end of the day.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said in a statement on Friday that Symbio's technical roadmap "perfectly" matched with the automaker's hydrogen rollout plans in Europe and in the U.S.
"This move will foster the speed of development to bring low-emission products to our customers, beyond traditional electric vehicles," he said in the statement.
Stellantis entry "will accelerate and globalize Symbio's growth," Faurecia CEO Patrick Koller said.
Earlier this year Symbio announced its HyMotive project to accelerate its industrialization, with a plan to increase total production capacity in France to 100,000 systems a year by 2028 while generating 1,000 additional jobs.
The transaction, for which no financial details were provided, is expected to be finalized in the first half of next year, the three companies said in the statement.
Symbio was founded in 2019. PSA Group, which merged with Fiat Chrysler to form Stellantis, had an indirect stake in Symbio via its controlling stake in Faurecia. That stake was liquidated before the merger was finalized in January 2021.
Reuters contributed to this report