PARIS -- Symbio, the joint venture between Michelin and Faurecia to develop hydrogen fuel cell powertrains, has landed a contract to supply components for PSA Group light commercial vans.
The company already supplies fuel cell stacks to Renault, which at the end of last year started selling electric versions of the small Kangoo and large Master vans with hydrogen fuel cells in addition to lithium ion batteries.
Renault described the fuel cells as a "range-extending" feature. The fuel cell version of the Kangoo Z.E. has a range of 370 km (230 miles), compared with 230 km for the battery-only version; and the Master’s range triples to 350 km from 120 km. Renault has sold several hundred of the fuel cell equipped Kangoo vans.
Xavier Peugeot, the head of PSA Group’s light commercial vehicle business unit, said in June that the automaker was developing fuel-cell versions of electric vans for trial use in 2021. Symbio said it would be providing fuel cell stacks for the first 100 vehicles in the test fleet, which will consist of medium vans from the group’s Citroen, Opel/Vauxhall and Peugeot brands. The hydrogen tanks will be made by Faurecia.
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.
Symbio’s announcement of the PSA deal comes weeks after the French government announced it would invest 7 billion euros ($8.3 billion) to develop a hydrogen infrastructure to help meet environmental targets. China has also recently said it would support hydrogen power.
Michelin and Faurecia plan to invest 140 million euros to build a hydrogen fuel-cell factory in France, with production starting in 2022 or 2023.