Six Chinese companies sign JV for R&D on fuel cells

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 05 Jun 2020

A fuel cell truck from Toyota

Six companies that share a common vision for the widespread use of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in China today signed a joint venture agreement for the establishment of United Fuel Cell System R&D (Beijing) (FCRD).

FCRD's primary business will be the development of fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles to contribute to the realisation of a clean mobility society in China. Each company, including Toyota Motor Corporation and Beijing SinoHytec  will invest in the joint venture. Dong Changzheng will be appointed chairman and Ryu Akita will be chief executive officer (CEO). Plans call for FCRD to be established in Beijing during 2020.

The six companies participating in the joint venture are as follows:

  • China FAW Corporation Limited ("FAW")
  • Dongfeng Motor Corporation ("DFM")
  • Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. ("GAC GROUP")
  • Beijing Automotive Group Co., Ltd. ("BAIC GROUP")
  • Beijing SinoHytec Co., Ltd. ("SinoHytec")
  • Toyota Motor Corporation ("Toyota")


In accordance with the Technology Roadmap for Energy-Saving and New Energy Vehicles announced by China in 2016, the FCEV market, primarily for commercial vehicles, is growing at a pace not seen anywhere else in the world. Based on the belief that industry-wide efforts to build the foundations for the widespread adoption of FCEVs under an unprecedented open structure rather than measures by individual companies will be essential for the spread and firm establishment of FCEVs in the Chinese market, which is undergoing these extreme changes, these six companies, which share a common vision for FCEVs, decided to establish an R&D joint venture.

The manufacturers of completed vehicles, which represent China's extensive commercial vehicle development know-how and market experience along with SinoHytec and Toyota, which have experience with FC system development as well as results in the market, believe that they can work together as partners to promote the spread of FCEVs and develop competitive fuel cell systems that comply with regulations in China. Specifically, the six companies will engage in discussions to formulate product plans and create a single streamlined structure to develop a series of technologies from components including FC stacks that satisfy performance needs in China and FC system controls that support those components, to vehicle installation. The companies believe that by doing this, the lead time from development to commercialization will be substantially shortened, making it possible to dramatically increase the pace of each stage of FCEV proliferation in the Chinese commercial vehicle market. They will tackle the challenges of developing low-cost, competitive fuel cell systems and their key components with superior product strengths including the drive performance, fuel efficiency, and durability that will be essential for the widespread adoption of FCEVs.

FCRD will support the proliferation of FCEVs for the creation of a hydrogen-based society in China, and by promoting and developing FCEVs, will contribute to solving environmental issues including reducing CO2 emissions and curtailing air pollution and work to facilitate the formation of an even better mobility society in China.

Vice President of FAW, Wang Guoqiang, stated, "FAW seeks to advance fuel cell technologies and collaborate with partners that share its vision to create win-win relationships with all stakeholders in accordance with the principle of making maximum efforts to preserve the global environment. By combining our respective strengths and sharing resources, we eagerly hope to build the fuel cell development infrastructure that can leverage our respective areas of superiority, while contributing together to the development of an environmentally-friendly motorized society."

Vice President of DFM, You Zheng, said, "The development of FCEVs is about to enter a new era. We believe that the keys to successful development and widespread use of FCEVs are a shared understanding of principles by numerous people and collaboration to overcome the many challenges that will be faced until the hydrogen energy industry reaches maturity. The establishment of a new joint venture company by DFM, FAW, BAIC GROUP, GAC GROUP, SinoHytec, and Toyota, our dedication to researching and developing fuel cell systems for commercial vehicles, and the creation of infrastructure for the development of the hydrogen industry is a new endeavor unprecedented in the history of the automobile industry. DFM has adopted a more open, more comprehensive, and more feasible vision to search with its partners for a new path to the development of environmentally-friendly and low-carbon eco-vehicles. This may be a long and difficult road, but based on the belief that additional efforts by the entire industry is critical for achieving the hydrogen-based society that we seek, the new company will tackle the challenges and aim to open up new prospects."

President of GAC GROUP, Feng Xingya, commented, "GAC GROUP is greatly honored to have this opportunity to establish a new joint venture company with our partners and work for the widespread adoption of FCEVs in China. I am confident that by developing the various technologies that will be needed in the Chinese market, the new company will develop competitive fuel cell systems in a timely manner, thereby accelerating the adoption of FCEVs in China's commercial vehicle market, promoting the development of the FCEV industry in China. This, in turn, will contribute to the realization of an even better mobility society. GAC GROUP seeks to promote the development of the fuel cell industry in China with its partners by focusing its efforts in the new-energy vehicle field with the aim of supporting the development of society through ongoing and varied innovation initiatives."

General Manager of BAIC GROUP, Zhang Xiyong, said, "China is one of the fastest-developing countries in terms of FCEVs, and as we are about to enter the advancement phase for fuel cell technologies, use in commercial fields is starting in some regions. As an active participant in new energy innovation, BAIC GROUP is working with partners that have a global strategic vision, to investigate the issues that the Chinese automobile industry is facing and enhance collaboration in the fuel cell technology innovation and R&D fields. The new company aims to be an open and cooperative research and development platform, and believes in being able to combine the strengths of each company: Toyota with its advanced fuel cell technology, SinoHytec with great potential in the system-integrating field, and each complete vehicle manufacturer's extensive knowledge in the manufacturing and Chinese automobile market field. We are confident in realizing a hydrogen-based society in the near future and contributing to a clean energy revolution in China and even globally, through shared resources and continuous efforts towards technological innovation by the respective companies."

Chairman of SinoHytec, Zhang Guoqiang, commented, "There is already a shared global understanding that the hydrogen industry is an important means of promoting energy saving and CO2 reductions and shifting to alternative energy sources. In the automobile industry, fuel cell systems are believed to be a key solution in achieving zero-emission vehicles and will play a central role in market competition. China has an abundance of energy resources that can be converted to hydrogen and the market is large. Therefore, expectations are growing for the development of the hydrogen industry in conjunction with the formulation of related policies. I believe that the new company will lead to the development of an open, cooperative, and sharing hydrogen energy industry, the advancement of hydrogen use and industry, and the formation of infrastructure for a hydrogen-based society in China."

Operating Officer of Toyota, Shigeki Terashi, said, "FCRD is a company that holds tremendous significance for Toyota's global FC strategies. There is no other automobile market with such a sense of speed, and I am extremely confident that we will gain partners we can work with toward the shared target of expanding the use of FCEVs in China. As I regularly state, it is important to find partners to promote the electrification of cars, and by working with companies that have considerable influence in China's commercial vehicle market as well as SinoHytec, which has reliable technological capabilities, I believe that we will be able to establish the foundations for the widespread use of FCEVs in China. Toyota is committed to deepening its undertakings for the development of the FCEV industry in China through open collaborative relationships with its partners."