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Symbio, Schaeffler’s new JV to produce fuel cell bipolar plates for mobility solutions

The JV is planned to begin production from early-2024 with an initial capacity of 4 million BPP per year, aiming at producing annually around 50 million BPP globally and employing more than 120 people by 2030.

Symbio, a Michelin and Faurecia hydrogen company, and Schaeffler have signed an agreement for the creation of a new 50:50 joint venture to produce fuel cell bipolar plates for global mobility and energy solutions.

The JV located in Haguenau, in the Alsace region, France will combine the know-how of the European suppliers and a global leader in automotive fuel cell technology who together see vast potential in the developing hydrogen economy. It will also build a Franco-German partnership aiming at strengthening the European hydrogen mobility value chain.

The new entity will be operational under the brand name Innoplate by the end-2022, will accelerate the production of next generation BPP for the entire proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell market, thus enhancing performance, capacity, and cost competitiveness for its customers.

The JV is planned to begin production from early-2024 with an initial capacity of 4 million BPP per year, aiming at producing annually around 50 million BPP globally and employing more than 120 people by 2030.

Innoplate will enable and accelerate the mass-production of next generation BPP with Symbio and Schaeffler being the JV’s exclusive customers. Symbio has already received a first major nomination for their fuel cell system from a leading automotive OEM and plans to use the JV to supply the BPP for this program.

Symbio has over 30 years of cumulated experience in developing fuel cell systems and offers a complete range of compact StackPacks, pre-validated and pre-integrated hydrogen systems that meet all requirements in terms of power and durability for zero-emission mobility.

While, Schaeffler a leading global supplier to the automotive and industrial sectors, has high expertise in precise forming and stamping technologies, and a deep process know-how for large scale production of metallic bipolar plates. Within Schaeffler these are being used for electrolysers for the production of hydrogen and as a key element of fuel cell stacks for all types of mobile and stationary fuel cell applications. It will utilise its high level of vertical integration in the area of forming, as well as highly sophisticated coating processes, form the basis for its deep process know-how for large scale production of BPP.

Philippe Rosier, CEO, Symbio said, “Metallic fuel cell bipolar plates are a strategic high added value component of the fuel cell system. Innoplate will be instrumental to secure serial production capability underpinning our customers’ programs and the hydrogen mobility market uptake, while accelerating enhanced system performance and an effective step-up in cost competitiveness of our solutions. Furthermore, it is testimonial of Symbio’s engagement to build technological and industrial leadership in Europe.”

Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO, Schaeffler said, “We believe that hydrogen will play a vital role in enabling clean mobility in the future. The establishment of a hydrogen economy and the transition to sustainable energy resources will largely depend on the industrialisation of reliable supply chains for the new technologies. Our Joint Venture with Symbio is a great example for this approach. As a global company that is headquartered in Germany, we are also very happy to partner with Symbio in France and foster the Franco-German cooperation in this important area. The JV allows a fast market entry for Schaeffler in partnership with a leading fuel cell supplier.”

Patrick Koller, CEO, Faurecia, company of the Group FORVIA said, “At FORVIA, we are well placed to know that the collaboration between two major Franco-German companies is a powerful driver to achieve excellence. Our convictions in fuel cells are solid and constant: hydrogen is a central matter for the mobility of tomorrow. Together, Symbio and Schaeffler are putting their complementary know-how at the service of Innoplate to create a key player in hydrogen mobility.”

Florent Menegaux, CEO, Michelin said, “This strategic move between Schaeffler and Symbio will foster the development of hydrogen mobility at a faster pace. It will undoubtedly strengthen Symbio’s capacity to become a worldwide fuel cell system leader by 2030. At Michelin we strongly believe that Pan-European collaboration is an excellent way for European industrial players to stay at the forefront of strategic technologies. This Franco-German alliance demonstrates it perfectly.”

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