Stellantis Considers Fuel Cell Transporter Production

by Nov 4, 2022

Stellantis has announced that it would begin serial production of fuel cell versions of Peugeot, Citroen, and Opel light commercial vehicles at a site in France. Until now, fuel cell vans were only available in a limited number. According to the firm, manufacturing of light commercial vehicles with fuel cells of the Peugeot Expert, Citroen Jumpy, and Opel Vivaro models will be increased due to significant investments of €10 million in the Hordain factory and financial help from the French government. The French government is providing such help to meet the targets of 5,000 light duty fuel cell vehicles (cars and commercial) by 2023 and 50,000 by 2028.

These vehicles will be built on the site’s multi-energy line, which already manufactures electric and combustion engine variants. The plant is anticipated to have a capacity of 5,000 automobiles per year by 2024. Previously, a battery-electric vehicle was constructed in Hordain and then transported to Opel Special Vehicles in Russelsheim. The BEV powertrain was removed and replaced with a fuel cell powertrain in a small series (up to 1,000 units per year). Opel staff were able to convert several hundred units each year in the 15,000-square-meter production facility. The fact that it was found that this procedure could not be cost-effectively executed for bigger quantities. Stellantis stated earlier this summer that the experience obtained in Russelsheim, Germany, would be used for future series production at other plants, which is now taking place.

The approach in Hordain is now changed, albeit additional steps are still required for the hydrogen versions. The fuel cell models’ platforms are already integrated in the plant’s body shop. These models will then go through the usual stages of paintwork and assembly, on the same production line as combustion engine and electric vehicles, before entering the new 8,000-m2 facility dedicated solely to final tuning.

From here on, the paths of the combustion engine and electric differ again compared to the FC vans as these enter a new 8,000-square-meter facility dedicated entirely to their final production. There, specially trained employees will then install the hydrogen tank, the battery and the fuel cells in the bodies prepared for this purpose, the platform for this has already been used in body construction. The new process is expected to halve the time needed to adapt the model compared with the Russelsheim small-series production.

In addition, with the launch of the fuel cell vehicles, Stellantis is providing an insight into the current demand for zero-emission vehicles, 43% of the vehicles produced in Hordain are already electric. In addition to BEV versions of Opel, Citroen, and Peugeot vans, sister models from Vauxhall, Fiat, and Toyota are manufactured there.

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