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Ballard MOU with strategic partner Broad-Ocean targets fuel cell modules for buses and commercial vehicles

Ballard Power Systems has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with strategic partner Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Company Limited with the goal of producing fuel cell modules for use in buses and commercial vehicles in select cities and regions in China.

In July, Broad-Ocean announced a $28.3-million strategic equity investment in Ballard, through which Broad-Ocean acquired a 9.9% ownership position in Ballard, making it the company’s largest shareholder. (Earlier post.)

Key regions contemplated in the MOU include Wuhan (the capital of Hubei Province), Chongqing (or Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province), Shandong Province, and Beijing (the Chinese national capital city).

The MOU represents the next step under a strategic collaboration framework agreement signed by Ballard and Broad-Ocean in July. As per the strategic collaboration framework agreement, the companies are collaborating on a number of strategic and commercial initiatives in the Chinese fuel cell market, including:

  • market development activities and product development for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, including buses and commercial vehicles;

  • potential license and local assembly of Ballard fuel cell modules by Broad-Ocean in selected Chinese cities;

  • integration of Ballard fuel cell modules with Broad-Ocean EV drive systems to provide customers with turnkey fuel cell engines; and

  • leveraging of Broad-Ocean’s global operations and supply chain infrastructure to lower the cost of Ballard fuel cell engines and the cost of integration with vehicle drivetrains.

Broad-Ocean is a leading global manufacturer of motors that power small and specialized electric machinery for EVs including buses, commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles, and for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Broad-Ocean has 4 business units: EV; Rotating Electrical for Vehicles; HVAC; and EV Operations Platform. In addition, it holds majority and minority shares in 18 companies.

Broad-Ocean produces more than 50 million motors annually for customers on 5 continents, including King Long, Yutong, Van Hool, BAE Systems, SAIC Motor, FAW, Dongfeng, General Motors, Ford, Volvo, Fiat, TATA, Cummins, Caterpillar, Carrier, Trane, Daikin, Goodman, Gree and Midea.

Broad-Ocean’s fourth business unit—EV Operations Platform—operates a commercial vehicle leasing business in China through which it buys new energy vehicles, including EVs, and subsequently leases these buses and commercial vehicles. Broad-Ocean has now expanded this business to include fuel cell vehicles. On July 18, 2016 Broad-Ocean signed an agreement with partner companies relating to the purchase of 10,000 fuel cell vehicles, including buses and delivery trucks, all of which are expected to have Ballard’s leading PEM fuel cell technology inside.

The MOU was signed during a Commercial Ceremony held at the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel in Shanghai, China and was hosted by The Right Honorable Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, who is in China on an official visit at the invitation of Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang. The MOU signing was witnessed by The Honorable Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, together with a number of other dignitaries.

We are making solid progress in the execution of our China strategy and our strategic partnership with Broad-Ocean. Today we set out a blueprint for our expansion into major new regions in China. With our strong partnerships, leading technology and respected brand, we are well positioned to address key Chinese markets where clean urban transportation solutions are a high priority.

Our China strategy and business model are premised on engaging with strong Chinese partners to localize fuel cell production in order to reduce costs, drive scale, mitigate market risk and minimize capital investment. We expect to benefit from Broad-Ocean’s electric vehicle (EV) expertise, customer base, operations scale and supply chain strength, in addition to its demand pull-through of fuel cell vehicles.

—Randy MacEwen, Ballard’s President and CEO

We believe the opportunity for hydrogen fuel cells in China is entering a new growth phase. We are committed to make a significant investment in our fuel cell strategy over the next 5 years, and Ballard is a key piece of our strategy. Today we are moving forward to license and manufacture Ballard fuel cell engines for buses and commercial vehicles in key Chinese cities and expect to finalize definitive agreements by early 2017.

—Charles Lu, Founder and Chairman of Broad-Ocean



Excellent idea. Should have been done 10 years ago. Over 100,000 FC buses could already be in use in China to help with GHG and pollution reduction.


Ballard was at the top 20+ years ago, good to see they are making partners.


While the theoretical energy density for FC is worth pursuing especially in the area of heavy vehicles which are very efficient and important transport solutions, the safety and practical storage, handling and overall efficiency difficulties with H2 suggest that H2 will not be practical or cost effective for private or small passenger vehicles or for domestic energy storage solutions until this trifecta of conundrums is resolved.

If a trillion volt cable fails and falls to ground the only persons a risk are those in the immediate vicinity.

An ordinary household (distributed) neighbourhood or local storage even single vehicle H2 failure will leave no witnesses and the destruction will be catastrophic.

Can't happen?

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