Joining forces for hydrogen-powered CO₂-neutral transportation

In April 2020, Daimler Truck AG together with the Volvo Group announced the planned establishment of a new joint venture. The intention is to develop, produce and commercialize fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicle applications and other use cases. Read in a joint statement by Martin Daum and Martin Lundstedt why we believe that this is the right step.

One important long-term strategic objectives of our industry and society is climate change and reducing humanities carbon footprint. The planned Joint Venture of Daimler AG and Volvo Group is proof of our determination to contribute to this goal.

We know that transport and logistics is a key enabler for societies to grow and prosper. And we know that the need for transport will increase with a growing world population and urbanization. We must meet that need with solutions that are more sustainable than todays.

Electrification of road transport is a key element in delivering the so-called Green Deal, a carbon neutral Europe and ultimately a carbon neutral world. Using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations and for other applications like buses, construction equipment and the industrial segment is an important part of the puzzle, and a complement to battery electric vehicles and renewable fuels.

Decarbonizing our industry is a massive undertaking and no company will be able to do everything on their own. It will be about working with the right partners in specific, important areas. Thus, Daimler and Volvo intend to form a joint venture for the development and large-scale production of fuel cells, which is yet subject to approval of responsible authorities.

We share the same vision of a transformation towards sustainable transport solutions, and by working together in this specific area we plan to unlock three potentials:

First: we will be able to progress faster. Our plan is to move the fuel cell technology into high-volume production in the second half of the 2020s, and we want to do so with the quality, reliability and durability that our commercial vehicle customers expect from all of our products and technologies. In doing so, we aim to create acceptance for and trust in fuel cell technology in our society. Because that trust and engagement from other actors will be key in order for the vision of sustainable transportation to become reality.

Second: we are not starting from scratch at all with fuel cells, but rather building upon a readily available and mature foundation. At Daimler, we have a long history of research, development and production of this technology – with millions of kilometers already driven in passenger car and commercial vehicle applications. Trucks and buses are literally the perfect carriers to put this technology now into series production vehicles.

Third: apart from increasing our speed to market, this joint venture also helps both of us to shoulder the substantial investments we will have to make in the coming years. Teaming up will create scale effects as well as other efficiencies, which are indispensable for the fuel cell to become commercially viable within our ambitious timeframe. Regarding the current economic downturn, this aspect of our cooperation becomes even more important.

These are all good reasons for Volvo and Daimler to work together in this area, even though we are and will remain natural competitors in all other aspects.

To make all of this happen, we will bundle all our Daimler-wide fuel cell competencies and capacities within Daimler Truck AG, and we’ll establish a new entity: Daimler Truck Fuel Cell. In our new unit we will include teams of Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH, Mercedes-Benz Canada Fuel Cell and Mercedes-Benz AG. Over the past years, these colleagues have gained vast knowledge on the development and production of fuel-cell systems for various vehicle applications. We’re happy to bring this asset into the joint venture. Plus, Daimler has invested heavily in this technology and Daimler Trucks, like Volvo, will continue to invest heavily as we develop and manufacture series production fuel cells.

Making fuel cell technology work is no small undertaking for any one company. Thus, we’re convinced that combining the experience of both Daimler and Volvo is the right thing to do for us, our customers and for society as a whole.

The agreement is also a call for action to others. We made our move to show our commitment to this technology. In order to make CO₂-neutral vehicles competitive, we will also need regulatory and governmental steering measures to improve the business case for our customers, including the crucial infrastructure for generating, storing and distributing hydrogen. So it’s up to others to join us now. Together, we will be able to accomplish this task.

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