Groupe Renault, the French automaker, and Plug Power Inc, the leading company in fuel cell systems and hydrogen-related services, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to establish a 50-50 joint-venture by mid-2021. The JV will target around 30% share of the European fuel cell light commercial vehicles market.
The Renault and Plug Power JV will conduct R&D to advance the fuel cell technology and hydrogen-powered vehicles Renault platforms. In addition to R&D, the JV will combine Renault’s auto manufacturing technology with Plug Power’s fuel cell and hydrogen capabilities, to develop a fuel cell stack and system production base in France for light commercial vehicles platforms.
Moreover, the JV will also form a comprehensive sales strategy covering almost every aspect of the hydrogen vehicles business from fuel cell vehicle sales to hydrogen fuel. This will help promote hydrogen vehicles in commercial fleet operations. The JV also aims to start pilot fleet deployments of fuel cell light commercial vehicles in Europe in 2021. The JV needs to get clearance from the relevant regulatory bodies, where the process is likely to be completed in the first half of 2021.
The deal with Renault came in less than a week after SK Group announced to invest $1.5 billion in Plug Power. H2 Bulletin already covered SK Group strategic partnership with Plug Power. SK investment in Plug Power was through buying 51.4 million shares of common stock, though the terms of the deal with Renault are unknown at this stage.
Both companies will be benefited from the deal as demand for fuel cell vehicles to increase in the coming years. The fuel cell technology is not considered competitive to electric vehicles, so it would not harm Renault electric vehicles business.