Symbio holds opening of Europe’s largest fuel cell production plant

The SymphonHy plant in Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France The SymphonHy plant is in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region of France (Photo: Symbio)

Symbio, a hydrogen mobility joint venture between Stellantis, the group which produces vehicles under such brands as Fiat, Chrysler, RAM, Jeep, Peugeot and Vauxhall, Forvia, a group of vehicle suppliers including Faurecia and Hella, and tyre manufacturer Michelin, has inaugurated what is described as Europe’s largest hydrogen fuel cell production facility.

Located in Saint-Fons, France, the site has been christened SymphonHy. The project is part of HyMotive, a €1 billion programme to ‘develop disruptive technology’, which is supported by the European Union and French government as part of the IPCEI (Important Project of Scientific Interest).

Annual production of fuel cell units will start at 16,000 units, increasing to about 50,000 units by 2026.

“Delivered in less than two years, SymphonHy is testimonial of Symbio’s ability to meet its industrial commitments, underpinning the acceleration of zero-emission hydrogen mobility deployment,” said Philippe Rosier, CEO of Symbio at the opening of the site. He continued: “The first 100% fuel cell system assembled at SymphonHy was produced in October 2023, just one month after the gigafactory became operational.”

Patrick Koller, CEO of Forvia, further noted that Symbio covers 75% of the hydrogen mobility value chain, extending from fuel cells to H2 storage systems. In 2022, Forvia delivered 10,000 H2 tanks.

In his comments at the opening, Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, said: “This technology is a building block of the powerful electrification ecosystem we are developing to support our bold goal to reach, by 2030, 100% electric sales in Europe and 50% in the US.”

In addition to fuel cells, the SymphonHy facility will be home to a new innovation hub and the Symbio Hydrogen Academy.

The plant is said to feature a high level of automation across its production halls. This will support large-scale production and deliver competitive costs.

Fuel cells produced at the SymphonHy plant will feature on light- and mid-range commercial vehicles, trucks, pickups and buses, through to off-highway machines and handling equipment. Hydrogen cells produced by Symbio have already completed about six million miles of road testing.

Bus manufacturer Safra will also use fuel cells produced at the plant. Symbio noted that about 20 other companies are working with ‘proofs of concept’ to validate integration of the fuel cells.

Fuel cells can deliver a single-fill range of up to 500 km, while tanks take about 10 minutes to refill. Stellantis has confirmed that it plans to use hydrogen technology in its Ram pickups as it moves to electrify its vehicle portfolio.


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