Electromobility: Michelin, Faurecia create hydrogen fuel cell systems JV

Faurecia CEO Patrick Koller, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Secretary of State at the French Ministry for Economy and Finance, and Michelin’s Florent Menegaux celebrate the JV’s signing

In 2017, Michelin stated that hydrogen “ticks all the boxes” for its vision of sustainable mobility. The company’s activities in this area are now moving forward with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to create a new joint venture that will bring together all of Michelin’s fuel cell related activities, including its subsidiary Symbio, with those of automotive parts manufacturer Faurecia.

Symbio, a Faurecia Michelin Hydrogen Company, will be equally owned by both companies. This French joint venture will develop, produce and market hydrogen fuel cell systems for light vehicles, utility vehicles, trucks and other applications.

In a joint statement, Faurecia and Michelin stress their conviction regarding “the importance of hydrogen technology in tomorrow’s world of zero emissions mobility.” They aim to “create a strong French and European hydrogen industrial sector”: By combining their existing and complementary assets in a joint venture, Michelin and Faurecia anticipate Symbio becoming a “world leader in hydrogen fuel cell systems.” From the start, the joint venture will offer a “unique range” of hydrogen fuel cell systems for all applications.

For electric vehicles, fuel cell technology complements battery technology, especially in applications requiring very intense use and greater autonomy. Furthermore, fuel cell technology has recently been selected by the European Union as one of Europe’s six Important Projects of Common Interest.

Michelin is contributing the activities of Symbio to the joint venture. Symbio, a supplier and developer of hydrogen fuel cell systems, became a Michelin Group subsidiary on 1 February 2019. The cooperation between Michelin and multinational utility company ENGIE for the development of a hydrogen ecosystem, a collaboration that particularly focuses upon hydrogen mobility, will also benefit the joint venture.

Faurecia will contribute the technological fuel cell expertise it has developed through a strategic partnership with the CEA, its industrial know-how and strategic relationships with car manufacturers. Faurecia will continue its development of high-pressure hydrogen tanks in partnership with Stelia Aerospace Composites, and this will benefit the joint venture.

The agreement between Michelin and Faurecia was signed yesterday in the presence of Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Secretary of State at the French Ministry for Economy and Finance. This operation is subject to the approval of the competent merger authorities.

“This innovative partnership will facilitate the emergence and development of hydrogen mobility: it opens the way to a new form of sustainable mobility,” said Florent Menegaux, general managing partner and future president of the Michelin Group. “I welcome the alliance between Michelin and Faurecia, incorporating our strategic asset Symbio. The ultimate aim is to develop a complete mobility offer for hydrogen vehicles, from fuel cells to maintenance services.”

Patrick Koller, chief executive officer of Faurecia, added: “I am very pleased to have signed this strategic agreement with Michelin with a view to creating the world leader in hydrogen mobility. Our shared vision, as well as the complementarity of our technological know-how, will accelerate the market launch of efficient fuel cell systems adapted to different use cases. Our joint ambition is to create a centre of excellence for hydrogen mobility in France through the gradual combination of our activities.”

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