At the end of April 2019, Bosch made a loud and clear commitment to fuel cells by announcing its intention to produce FC stacks for mobile applications together with PowerCell Sweden AB in the future. According to a press release, Robert Bosch GmbH wants to “prepare the breakthrough of technology for trucks and passenger cars”.
Dr. Stefan Hartung, Bosch Managing Director and Chairman of the Mobility Solutions division, explained: “We’re going about it now and opening up the market.”
The fuel cell of PowerCell, a spin-off of the Volvo Group with now has 60 employees, is based on the AutoStack, which was developed by ZSW in cooperation with European car manufacturers. This PEM stack is now to be jointly further developed to series maturity by Bosch and PowerCell and then produced by the Swabians under license for the automotive market – presumably in Germany. It is expected to be launched on the market by 2022 at the latest. The automotive supplier from Gerlingen assumes that “in 2030 up to 20 percent of all electric vehicles worldwide will be powered by fuel cells”.
The partners see great potential particularly in the commercial vehicle market, as the European Union’s fleet requirements for trucks envisage a reduction in CO2 emissions of 15 percent on average by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. “Through industrialisation and the spread of technology on the market, Bosch will achieve economies of scale and reduce costs,” said Hartung.
Bart Biebuyck, Managing Director of Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), had recently explained during the Hanover Messe that this was one of the “best stacks in the world”. However, he had also stated that Europeans had not yet recognised this, while others had. The US manufacturer Nikola, for example, used the PowerCell stack for the first H2 trucks. Bosch was also involved in its implementation. At the beginning of April 2019, however, Nikola announced that it would no longer use this stack.
In August 2018, Bosch also entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with Ceres Power Holdings plc to advance technology development and the establishment of small-series production. The British company develops solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). Bosch acquired four percent of the shares in the company. Dr. Hartung explained: “For Bosch, the highly efficient fuel cell with very low emissions is an important contribution to the security of supply and flexibility of the energy system.”