Toyota speeds fuel cell commercialization through JV in China

Toyota speeds fuel cell commercialization through JV in China

Business news |
With a new R&D joint venture, six companies intend to accelerate the spread of fuel cell vehicles in China. United Fuel Cell System R&D (FCRD), based in Beijing, will develop fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles in China. Toyota holds 65 percent of the joint venture.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt


In addition to Toyota Motor Corporation, the companies China FAW Corporation, Dongfeng Motor Corporation, Guangzhou Automobile Group, Beijing Automotive Group and Beijing SinoHytec are participating in the new joint venture. The number of employees is expected to rise from an initial 50 to 100 in the medium term.

The market for fuel cell vehicles – especially commercial vehicles – is growing at an enormous pace in China. With the new JV, the companies intend to shorten the time from the development of fuel cell systems to market launch. The focus is on developing reliable, competitive and cost-effective components and systems.

The six partners will provide FCRD with a capital of five billion yen, according to Toyota. This is equivalent to around 40 million euros. The JV is being set up because the partners are convinced that the basis for the widespread introduction of FCEV is open structures rather than action by individual companies, the companies say in a press release.

Toyota and SinoHytec want to contribute their experience with fuel cell systems, while FAW, Dongfeng, GAC and BAIC “represent China’s comprehensive know-how and market experience in the development of commercial vehicles”. Initially, a product plan should be drawn up and fuel cell stacks developed “that meet the performance requirements in China”. But also FC system control and vehicle integration are part of FCRD’s development work.

With the establishment of the new joint venture, the trend that makes commercial vehicles the platform of choice for fuel cell drives is continuing; the use of this technology for passenger cars is moving further into the background (with the notable exception of BMW who recently showcased a fuel cell-driven SUV – albeit only as a concept study). Toyota’s competitor Daimler, formerly one of the pioneers in the development of fuel cell passenger cars, has only recently discontinued these developments and intends to concentrate on the heavy commercial vehicle market together with Volvo.

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