Europe’s largest integrated site producing hydrogen fuel cells inaugurated

Symbio, a joint venture between Forvia, Michelin, and Stellantis, has inaugurated its first fuel cell gigafactory, SymphonHy. Located in Saint-Fons, France, SymphonHy has a production capacity of 16,000 fuel cells, set to increase to 50,000 by 2026, making it the largest integrated fuel cell production site in Europe.

The site houses the Group’s headquarters, a production plant, an innovation hub of unparalleled dimension, and the Symbio Hydrogen Academy.

With its state-of-the-art technology, SymphonHy has a high level of automation and robotics supporting large-scale industrial production at a more competitive cost. These developments are key to accelerate the roll-out of competitive, high-performance hydrogen-powered transport, and contribute to the energy transition and the ambitions of Europe to move towards net zero.

With more than 30 years of experience, the support of its shareholders, leaders in the automotive world, and with six million kilometers of road-testing already on the clock, Symbio has developed unique expertise. The Group offers a broad portfolio of solutions that meet all power, durability and autonomy requirements for an efficient zero-emission mobility, from on-road light and mid-range commercial vehicles, trucks, pickups, buses and coaches, to off-road lifting and mechanical handling equipment.

Fuel cell technology complements battery technology for sustainable electric mobility. It is seen as being particularly well-suited for intensive and demanding professional usages entailing heavy loads, long distances, and quick refilling times.

Stellantis was the first company to market a zero-emission hydrogen solution for light commercial vehicles for the Peugeot e-Expert, Citroën e-Jumpy and Opel Vivaro-e models. The company is expanding its range to include large vans with a mid-power architecture, a range of up to 500 km and a recharge time of less than 10 minutes. Stellantis plans to develop a hydrogen technology for its Ram brand pickups, in line with its aim of electrifying its portfolio of vehicles with a range of 320 miles ALVW or 200 miles GCWR and fast tank refilling, without compromising on payload capacity. All these vehicles will be equipped with fuel cells produced by Symbio.

Philippe ROSIER, CEO of Symbio, said: “SymphonHy is proof of Europe’s industrial and technological leadership. Together with the entire ecosystem and our private and public partners, we are ready to scale up and make hydrogen electric mobility, a sustainable, high-performance, and affordable reality. Delivered in less than two years, SymphonHy is testimonial of Symbio’s ability to meet its industrial commitments, underpinning the acceleration of zero-emission hydrogen mobility deployment. The first 100% fuel cell system assembled at SymphonHy was produced in October 2023, just one month after the gigafactory became operational.”

In partnership with the German group Schaeffler, Symbio has set up a 50/50 joint venture, Innoplate, to produce bipolar plates (BPPs), a strategic component in fuel cells. Based in Alsace, France, Innoplate will be operational in the first quarter of next year with an initial capacity of 4 million BPPs, rising to around 50 million BPPs annually and employing over 120 people by 2030. Innoplate will help accelerate the production of new-generation BPPs for the PEM fuel cell market, improving performance and competitiveness while reducing costs.

SymphonHy is part of HyMotive, a strategic industrial and technological project supported by the European Union and the French government via the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

HyMotive represents a total multi-year investment of €1 billion. It plans to build a second gigafactory, doubling its overall production capacity in France to 100,000 systems a year by 2028. The project also aims to develop ground-breaking technology to support the competitiveness of fuel cell technology, with the aim of achieving parity with battery-powered electric mobility and traditional thermal technology by 2030.

HTW Editorial Team

HTW Editorial Team

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