ZF, Freudenberg Announce Fuel Cell Drive Partnership

Mobility Outlook Bureau
16 Sep 2022
09:45 AM
2 Min Read

The agreement brings together ZF’s electric driveline leadership with Freudenberg’s fuel cell expertise to develop harmonised systems that seamlessly integrate fuel cells and electric drives.

ZF Freudenberg Fuel Cell
The partners plan to develop clean e-Drive ‘powerpack’ solutions, consisting of a fuel cell and drivetrain system, as well as share components for a variety of applications. 

In a development that promises to fast track electrification in commercial vehicles, ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Solutions (CVS) has signed a joint development agreement with fuel cell and battery systems supplier, Freudenberg e-Power Systems. 

The initial focus of the agreement, the companies said, is to develop a highly integrated fuel cell e-drive solution for trucks, buses and coaches with wider plans for the off-road sector. The first joint fuel cell e-drive solution prototype is expected by 2023.

It must be noted that ZF had already announced a fuel cell partnership for the development of a coach prototype as part of the HyFleet project. With Freudenberg, ZF is currently undertaking a pilot phase, and the partners are developing prototypes for bus and truck demonstration. 

The plan is to develop clean e-Drive ‘powerpack’ solutions, consisting of a fuel cell and drivetrain system, as well as share components for a variety of applications. Towards this, ZF will offer complete electric driveline systems of up to 360 kW continuous power, while Freudenberg will offer scalable e-power systems in kit form with various power outputs. This is in line with ZF’s new CeTrax 2 electric central drive for heavy-duty vehicles, the company said.

“Decarbonisation is a major aim of the transport industry, and within this, fuel cell technology will be a game changer. 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. 

He further said that ZF’s cooperation with Freudenberg will develop highly integrated fuel cell e-drive solutions for the commercial vehicle industry. “By reducing manufacturers’ development and project costs, our powerpack solutions will also help to lower the Total Cost of Ownership,” Rehm said.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Mohsen Sohi, CEO, Freudenberg Group said the group is investing heavily in the mobility of the future, including battery, hydrogen and fuel cell technology as well as in the development of high-tech components for electric vehicles. “The long-term cooperation with ZF agreed-upon today underscores the strategic importance and growth potential that we at Freudenberg see in this sector,” Sohi explained.

Dr Max Kley, CEO, Freudenberg e-Power Systems said Freudenberg and ZF are long-standing, experienced players in the industry and have complementary technology know-how. “Through our cooperation, we are pooling this experience to develop clean e-Drive solutions and thus helping support the industry in achieving its climate goals,” he said.

Decarbonising the Future

By 2030, ZF estimates a worldwide share of fuel cell technology to be 20% for heavy-duty commercial vehicles, as it promises longer range and faster refuelling times. As a result, ZF will continue to take a flexible, open-minded approach to fuel cell technology as a drive solution to support this transformation, it said. 

ZF Freudenberg Fuel Cell
The first joint fuel cell e-drive solution prototype is expected by 2023.

The partners expect the association to offer many benefits for manufacturers worldwide. For ZF, adding a jointly developed integrated fuel cell eDrive to its comprehensive eMobility portfolio means that all the key electrified hardware and software solutions customers require to transform their product portfolio are available from a ‘one-stop’ source, it said. 

The highly integrated eDrive technology is expected to eliminate the manufacturers need for costly R&D and project management, thus reducing integration efforts and helping lower the Total Cost of Ownership, ZF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, at the IAA Transportation in Hannover, Germany, among many others, ZF is scheduled to showcase how it is empowering OEMs and fleets for the future with innovative electrification systems, automated depot applications and intelligent connectivity solutions. The ZF stall is in Hall 21 at Booth A90.

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Freudenberg Reports Growth In All Sectors In FY21, Sales Crosses € 10 Bn Mark

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