In Germany, ZF and Freudenberg e-Power Systems have agreed to jointly develop hydrogen fuel cell battery drive systems for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The first prototypes are to be road-tested as early as 2023.
The two companies have said that their jointly made “Powerpacks”, consisting of fuel cell and electric drive, will initially focus on truck and bus applications. This technology is then to be transferred to rail, construction and agricultural vehicles as well as marine applications at a later date.
While Freudenberg is to provide modular fuel cell and battery kits with application-specific performance, ZF will be responsible for the complete electrical powertrain (including inverters, converters, compressors and software for energy management systems) with up to 360 kW continuous power. These will be made on the technical basis of the CeTrax 2, which is the recently presented next-generation electric central drive for heavy commercial vehicles.
In 2023, the first prototype vehicles with the fuel cell-battery system will be tested on roads with series production planned shortly thereafter.
Last year, both companies launched the HyFleet research project in collaboration with Flixbus to develop a fuel cell drive for new long-distance bus platforms. “We are investing heavily in the mobility of the future. In battery, hydrogen and fuel cell technology as well as in the development of high-tech components for electric vehicles,” says Mohsen Sohi, CEO of the Freudenberg Group. “The long-term cooperation with ZF agreed-upon today underscores the strategic importance and growth potential that we at Freudenberg see in this sector.”
What is clearly advantageous about this agreement for both companies is that they not only combine their complementary competencies but also that potential customers will also get solutions from a single source. “Together with Freudenberg, we can offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution enabling manufacturers to quickly bring e-mobility solutions to market and supporting the industry’s transformation towards a more sustainable future,” said Wilhelm Rehm, ZF Board Member with responsibility for Commercial Vehicle Solutions, Industrial Technology and Materials Management. “By reducing manufacturers’ development and project costs, our powerpack solutions will also help to lower the Total Cost of Ownership,” he explained.