Volvo and Daimler came together to invest in Cellcentric was because they realised the vast research and development costs to get their own fuel cell system up and running would be prohibitive, driving them to come up with an agreement around the pooling of fuel cell research resources, just for the fuel cell itself.
Although the core of the propulsion system will be the fuel cell, both Daimler and Volvo are likely to diverge in their approach to the other onboard systems. Both have evaluation vehicles on the road now but are likely to come up with different systems and protocols around the fuel cell itself.
“We both believe in using fuel cell technology as one cornerstone to decarbonise transport and when we were scouting the topic some years ago, on a supplier basis, it was very clear to us that there was nothing available off the shelf, for fulfilling our tough requirements,” said Lars Stenqvist, Chief Technology Officer Volvo Group. “We then had discussions about whether we should we start to develop something internally and we came to a conclusion that the effort was far too big and our volumes were not sufficient to do this on our own.
“Then when the Daimler team knocked on the door, with a proposal, because they had come to the same conclusion, saying if we combined our joint resources and our joint volumes, then we would be a significant player in this industry. That’s how it all started.
“So now we have Cellcentric up and running, a 50/50 joint venture and it’s our intention to develop fuel cells and produce them in high volumes, and then to act as a tier one supplier. We will install the fuel cell systems in our vehicles. But it’s important to state that, on a vehicle level, we remain competitors.
“This is what it takes to take society from a brown platform to a green platform, sometimes you work in partnership, even when your competitors, and yes, we are open to sell to third parties, what we are looking for is big volumes.”