UK-based fuel cell specialist Ceres Power and Chinese automotive manufacturer Weichai Power have agreed to create a joint venture to manufacture fuel cells for the Chinese bus, commercial vehicle and stationary power markets.
The two companies have agreed to create a £9-million fuel cell manufacturing JV in China, accelerating development of the 30 kW SteelCell SOFC range extender system, which uses compressed natural gas (CNG). Systems for 10 buses will be developed and trialed over the next two years.
Following completion of field trials, Weichai and Ceres will establish a fuel cell manufacturing joint venture in Shandong Province, China to manufacture SteelCell systems, stacks and fuel cells.
As part of the agreement, Weichai will invest a further £28 million in Ceres, in addition to its previous £20 million investment, increasing its stake in Ceres to 20%.
“Establishing manufacturing capability in China with a partner as strong as Weichai will enable our SteelCell technology to benefit from the kind of economies of scale and significantly lower costs we have seen in the solar and battery industries,” said Ceres Power CEO Phil Caldwell. “Weichai is one of the largest automotive and engine manufacturers in China. This agreement represents a scale-changing opportunity for Ceres.”
“We see significant commercial potential for using the SteelCell to help us develop cutting-edge fuel cell power systems,” said Weichai CEO Tan Xuguang. “We look forward to trialing the new range extender and also to developing new products for the transportation and stationary power generation markets in China.”