ZF, Freudenberg jointly develop fuel cell solution for commercial vehicles

ZF, Freudenberg jointly develop fuel cell solution for commercial vehicles

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Automotive supplier ZF and fuel cell and battery system expert Freudenberg e-Power Systems have agreed to jointly develop sustainable e-drive technologies. The envisaged “powerpacks”, consisting of fuel cell and drive system, are to offer a complete solution for the electrification of the commercial vehicle sector. Freudenberg contributes scalable e-power kits with a wide range of output powers to the partnership; ZF provides a complete electric driveline with up to 360 kW continuous power. The technical basis is CeTrax 2, ZF’s recently presented electric central drive for heavy commercial vehicles.

The development cooperation takes place against the background of the targeted decarbonization of the transport sector. There are various options as to how the path to this goal – in other words, sustainable driveline solutions of the future – could look. “Fuel cell technology will play a significant role in this,” says Wilhelm Rehm, ZF Board Member for Commercial Vehicle Solutions, Industrial Technology and Materials Management. For this reason, ZF has now agreed on a partnership with the fuel cell and battery system expert Freudenberg e-Power Systems. The cooperation combines the respective core competencies of both companies to develop highly integrated complete solutions for e-drive trains based on fuel cells (“Powerpacks”) – for heavy commercial vehicles.

Freudenberg provides modular fuel cell and battery kits with application-specific performance. ZF contributes its expertise for innovative e-mobility solutions: the complete electric driveline including inverters, converters, compressors and software for energy management systems. The technology group uses its experience in integrating such systems into the vehicle. This is intended to reduce development, production and ongoing operating costs for vehicle manufacturers and users.

Freudenberg CEO Mohsen Sohi took this opportunity to point out that his company is investing heavily in the development of fuel cell technology. According to Sohi, this technology is of strategic importance to Freudenberg.

The pilot phase of the joint project is currently underway, in which various truck and bus prototypes are being developed. The first test vehicle is expected in 2023. Part of this is also the already announced “HyFleet” collaboration between ZF, Freudenberg and Flixbus.

Fuel cells are particularly interesting for the commercial vehicle sector as an energy source thanks to longer ranges and shorter refueling times. ZF is aware of this trend: By 2030, the Group estimates that the worldwide share of this type of driveline in heavy commercial vehicles will increase to 20 percent. ZF will therefore continue to take a flexible and open-ended approach to fuel cell technology in order to effectively support the sector’s transformation toward sustainable mobility.

This technology-open approach to energy sources also underlies the partnership between ZF and Freudenberg to offer numerous benefits to manufacturers worldwide. ZF’s e-mobility portfolio is complemented by a jointly developed integrated fuel cell drive – meaning that all the key electrified hardware and software solutions customers need to transform their product portfolio come from a single source. The highly integrated e-drive technology eliminates the need for costly R&D and project management for manufacturers, reduces integration efforts, and thus helps lower the total cost of ownership, the ZF-Freudenberg tandem promises.

“Together with Freudenberg, we can offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution that enables manufacturers to bring e-mobility solutions to market quickly and support the industry’s shift toward a more sustainable future,” says Rehm.

Related articles:

Daimler Truck tests fuel cell truck with liquid hydrogen

Renault launches hydrogen JV, announces H2 light trucks

Stellantis introduces fuel cell drive for light trucks

Scottish project aims for hydrogen fuel cell train

Volvo, Daimler team on €1.2bn fuel cell joint venture

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