Stellantis Group has completed its 33,3% purchase in entering the capital of French fuel cell specialist Symbio, already a supplier of hydrogen systems for the group’s utility vehicles. The current shareholders, automotive supplier Faurecia and tire giant Michelin announced in December last year the start of negotiations with Stellantis.
“Acquiring an equal stake in Symbio bolsters Stellantis’ leadership position in hydrogen-powered vehicles by supporting the fuel cell van production in France, and it also serves as a perfect complement to the Company’s growing battery electric vehicle portfolio,” the company states in the press release.
“Symbio‘s technology roadmap fits perfectly with Stellantis‘ plans to deploy hydrogen solutions in Europe and the United States,” said Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, when the negotiations started. “This breakthrough will allow us to accelerate the development and commercialization of low–emission products for our customers, complementing traditional electric vehicles,” he added.
Key client Stellantis
Symbio says its upgraded StackPack 40 product (T5) will be mass production ready by the end of 2023, in alignment with the plans of its key client Stellantis to ramp up the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology on different platforms.
Today, the Symbio fuel cells are already used in the Peugeot e-Expert, Citroën e-Jumpy, and Opel e-Vivaro. They are assembled at Opel’s Russelsheim site in Germany, which has become Stellantis’ competence center for hydrogen.
Paris taxi company Hype and Stellantis are partnering to put the first hydrogen taxis using that technology with specific access for people with reduced mobility (PRM) on the road. Fifty Peugeot e-Expert Hydrogen and Citroën ë-Jumpy Hydrogen will transport users around Paris. By 2024, the partners could have deployed up to 1 000 zero-emission taxis.
The Symbio start-up, created by founder Fabio Ferrari in 2014 in Grenoble, already worked with Renault to equip a fleet of 300 Renault Kangoos with a fuel cell that adapts to standard electric vehicles to increase its range by about 180 kilometers. Michelin was one of the initial investors.
In October 2019, Renault announced it was equipping its electric vans – Kangoo Z.E. and Master Z.E. – with a Symbio fuel cell range extender on hydrogen, boosting their range from 230 to 370 km, and the Master from 120 to 350 km (WLTP).
Meanwhile, under its new CEO Luca de Meo, Renault finalized a 50/50 joint venture with American fuel cell developer Plug Power to capture a 30% share of the EU market of hydrogen-driven light commercial vehicles (LCVs).
Joint venture Michelin-Faurecia
In March 2019, Michelin and Faurecia created a joint venture combining all their activities dedicated to hydrogen fuel cells. Michelin pioneered this technology with Symbio, which first became a fully Michelin subsidiary on February 1st, to be integrated into the new joint venture in November of that year.
In March 2020, Michelin and Faurecia laid the first stone of what will become ‘Europe’s biggest fuel cell factory near Lyon. Its facility in Saint-Fons is expected to start production in late 2023 and to reach an output of 50 000 fuel cell systems annually by 2026.
One billion investment
Symbio will invest one billion euros over seven years in France through its HyMotive project. It aims to reach a one billion euros turnover with a production of 200 000 systems in 2030. It hopes to catch a quarter of the market for fuel cell systems.
Its fuel cell StackPacks are designed to meet the needs of all mobility applications, covering an extensive power range from 40 kW to 300 kW. At CES 2023 in Las Vegas, Symbio shows its NextGen Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology, boasting stack power density and durability.