Daimler Truck and Volvo Group are launching a joint venture to develop, produce and commercialise hydrogen fuel cell systems for HGVs and buses.

The first two trucks are planned to be on the road by 2024/25, ahead of mass production by the mid-2030s.

The deal will see Daimler consolidate its entire hydrogen fuel cell division in the joint venture whilst Volvo Group will acquire 50% of the JV for around €600m (£530m).

The partnership is subject to regulatory approval by the EU.

Martin Daum (above left), Daimler Truck chairman, said: “For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer and a technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades.

“This joint initiative with the Volvo Group is a milestone in bringing fuel cell powered trucks and buses onto our roads.”

Martin Lundstedt (above right), Volvo Group president and chief executive, said: “Using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations is one important part of the puzzle, and a complement to battery electric vehicles and renewable fuels.

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“Combining the Volvo Group and Daimler’s experience in this area to accelerate the rate of development is good both for our customers and for society as a whole.

“By forming this joint venture, we are clearly showing that we believe in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles. But for this vision to become reality, other companies and institutions also need to support and contribute to this development, not least in order to establish the fuel infrastructure needed.”

Speaking at the launch, Daum said both manufacturers have agreed to invest “a nine-digit amount of money, at least, from both parties (which) will flow immediately until we are ultimately ready to have that technology flowing into the market.”

Asked when the JV would be ready to launch fuel-cell powered trucks onto the road, Lundstedt said that the preliminary phase of “getting two trucks out on the road” and the secondary phase of having trucks which would have “limited applications in limited areas” will be launched “as fast as possible” with a target date of 2024/5.

He added: “But serious production of any number in any region in Europe will take a bit longer” suggesting this third phase would happen in “the middle of the next decade.”

Daum added that the JV was driven by its commitment “to contribute to the goal of reducing humanity’s carbon footprint.”

Lundstedt said that the move was also influenced by their customers. “Our customer base and their customers are a real driving force and want to be a part of the solution.

"Transport will play a real role in meeting the requirements of the Paris Agreement.”

Acknowledging the current lack of infrastructure to support hydrogen technology, Lundstedt said the JV was also “a call for action to others to help make these vehicles competitive by developing regulatory measures and the crucial infrastructure to generate and store hydrogen".