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Volkswagen Group acquires Ballard automotive fuel cell patent portfolio, extends engineering services contract in US$80+ million deal

Ballard Power Systems has entered into a Technology Solutions transaction with Volkswagen Group for an aggregate amount of approximately US$80 million for the transfer of certain automotive-related fuel cell intellectual property (IP) and a two-year extension of an engineering services contract. (Earlier post.)

Ballard will transfer the automotive-related portion of fuel cell IP assets previously acquired from United Technologies Corporation in return for payments from Volkswagen Group totaling US$50 million, a majority of which is expected to be received at the closing of the transaction during the current quarter. The remainder is expected to be received in early 2016.

Ballard will retain a royalty-free license to utilize the IP transferred to Volkswagen Group in bus and non-automotive applications as well as for certain limited pre-commercial purposes in automotive applications.

The transaction also includes a 2-year extension, through March 2019, of the existing long-term engineering services agreement signed by Ballard and Volkswagen in 2013. This extension has an incremental value estimated at C$30-50 million (approximately US$24-40 million). Over the full 6-years, the contract has an estimated value of C$100-140 million (approximately US$80-112 million), and also includes a further optional 2-year extension.

Ballard’s ongoing engineering services contract with Volkswagen Group involves the design and manufacture of next-generation fuel cell stacks for use in the demonstration car program. Ballard engineers are leading critical areas of fuel cell product design—including the membrane electrode assembly (MEA), plate and stack components—along with certain testing and integration work. Volkswagen Group’s commitment to, and progress in, fuel cell car

Audi, VW and the Volkswagen Group are very pleased with the acquisition of a world-class automotive fuel cell patent portfolio. We believe that this portfolio, together with the combined fuel cell skills and expertise of our group and Ballard, will underpin our ability to play a leading role in fuel cell automotive development and commercialization.

—Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG

Dr. Hackenberg is also Coordinator of the Technical Development of all brands in the Volkswagen Group.

Although the Volkswagen Group’s current production emphasis is on battery-powered electric drive (full BEV and PHEV, e.g., Volkswagen e-Golf, e-up! and Golf GTE; Audi A3 e-tron; Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid) with more such models coming, company executives have been consistent in saying that the modular architecture and toolkits would support hydrogen fuel cell solutions as well, market conditions permitting.

For example, at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington yesterday, Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing, Volkswagen of America said that:

Based on our modular toolkits, our engineers around the world are currently working on electrifying up to 40 different models from pure electric drives to plug-in hybrids, and even the fuel cell.

Last November at the LA Auto Show, Volkswagen and Audi introduced three fuel cell concept cars: Golf SportWagen HyMotion, Passat HyMotion and Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro. (Earlier post.)



Many of us are not sold on fuel cells. In fact most technically trained people see it for what it is, a boondoggle; however, I caution you to take the idea seriously and educate the people about the pitfalls whenever you can. There is a lot of money being spent on the technology and I fear the politicians, lobbyists, oil companies and car companies may have some success in forcing FCVs onto the American stage and sending the U.S. in the wrong direction all over again; just as we have been in using hydrocarbon for the last 100 plus years.


The family FCEV will make a great Emergency power generator for short and extended periods. A spare H2 tank in the family garage could extend FCEV's emergency power supply by another week or so.

FCEVs are popular in Japan for the same reason.


The corner is behind us. Bevs and FCVs are here. Now we need a price-point and improvements. Who will lead? It's quite a race. Will you drive an Apple, or a Google?

Tim Duncan

@Lad, seems you are oddly anti option. Personally I enjoy watching all the good ideas being worked. The people of the market will choose what is best for them. Even 100 years ago with little info or education people did a good job of this, how do you think first world economies have come so far? 100 to 200 years ago virtually everyone was in a 3rd world economy. The steam engine and other energy multipliers have since helped those that were allowed and could adopted them to vastly improve their world and their place in it.

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