Volvo, Daimler form partnership for fuel cell development

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Updated Nov 4, 2020

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Nov. 2, 2020: 

Volvo, Daimler partner to develop fuel cell systems for trucks
Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG announced the two companies have signed a binding agreement for a joint venture to develop, produce and commercialize hydrogen fuel cell systems for heavy-duty trucks and other applications.

As part of the agreement, Volvo will acquire 50% stake in Daimler Truck Fuel Cell GmbH for more than $698 million on a cash and debt-free basis. The closing of the transaction is expected during the first half of 2021.

“For us at Daimler Truck AG and our intended partner, the Volvo Group, the hydrogen-based fuel cell is a key technology for enabling CO2-neutral transportation in the future,” said Martin Daum, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG and member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.  “We are both fully committed to the Paris Climate Agreement for decarbonizing road transport and other areas, and to building a prosperous jointly held company that will deliver large volumes of fuel-cell systems.”

In addition to trucks, there are also other areas of application for this type of fuel-cell system, the companies said. The joint venture will develop a system with several power stages, including a twin system with 300 kW continuous power for heavy-duty long-haul trucks. Based on the demanding conditions in heavy-duty truck applications, the joint venture’s products are also ideally suited for other use cases such as stationary power generation.

Both companies’ goal is to start with customer tests of trucks with fuel cells in about three years and to be in series production during the second half of this decade.

Volvo and Daimler will own equal interests in the joint venture, but will continue to be competitors in all other areas such as vehicle technology and fuel cell integration in trucks.

Daimler acquires stake in lidar manufacturer Luminar
Daimler Truck AG has acquired a minority stake in lidar hardware and software technology company Luminar Technologies to further Daimler’s development of autonomous trucks.

Daimler subsidiary Daimler Trucks North America and Torc Robotics, part of Daimler’s Autonomous Technology Group, will work with Luminar to enhance lidar sensing, perception and system-level performance for Daimler trucks moving at highway speeds.

“Luminar has pioneered a critical enabling technology for bringing automated vehicles to the road, and we’re excited to work closely with them to drive this technology forward,” said Dr. Peter Vaughan Schmidt, head of Autonomous Technology Group at Daimler Trucks. “Their company has proven visionary in its focus and unique ability to enable long-range sensing and high-speed driving on the highway. Our common goal is to enable safe deployment of highly automated trucks and shape the future of the trucking and logistics industry at large.”

The partnership between Luminar and Daimler will extend beyond providing automotive technology solutions. As part of their joint commitment to safety, the companies will also collaborate on safety standards and operating practices and make future policy advancements and safety enhancements as a result of the joint program.

Volvo recalls 8,400 VNL tractors for sleeper window issue
Volvo Trucks North America is recalling certain model year 2020 VNL models for an issue in which the window hinge and mounting hardware are not strong enough to hold the window in place if the truck is driven with the sleeper bunk windows open. The recall affects approximately 8,456 trucks, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

Volvo has notified owners, and dealers will replace the window hinges for free. Owners may contact Volvo Trucks customer service at 1-800-458-1552 with recall number RVXX2005. NHTSA’s recall number is 20V-613.