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Symbio inaugurates first hydrogen fuel cell gigafactory; Stellantis to use Symbio fuel cells in Ram pickups

Symbio, an equally owned joint venture between automotive technology supplier Forvia, Michelin and Stellantis, inaugurated its first hydrogen fuel cell gigafactory, SymphonHy.

Located in Saint-Fons, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, SymphonHy is the largest integrated fuel cell production site in Europe. The site houses the Group’s headquarters, a production plant, an innovation hub and the Symbio Hydrogen Academy. SymphonHy has a high level of automation and robotics supporting large-scale industrial production at a more competitive cost.

SymphonHy in figures:

  • A current production capacity of 16,000, to reach 50,000 by 2026.

  • An existing surface area of 26,000 m2; 40,000 m2 by 2026.

  • 7,000 m2 of space dedicated to innovation.

  • 8,000 m2 of ISO 8-certified cleanrooms.

  • More than 450 engineers, including 100 dedicated to innovation and around 20 PhDs covering a wide range of disciplines (electrochemical engineering, chemistry, materials science, etc.), brought together in a single world-class innovation center.

  • A site that is energy self-sufficient and certified “Very Good” by BREEAM.

With more than 30 years of experience, the support of its shareholders, leaders in the automotive world, and with six million kilometers of road-testing already on the clock, Symbio has developed unique expertise. The Group offers a broad portfolio of solutions that meet all power, durability and autonomy requirement for an efficient zero-emission mobility, from on-road light and mid-range commercial vehicles, trucks, pickups, buses and coaches, to off-road lifting and mechanical handling equipment.

Stellantis, one of the world’s leading automakers and also a Symbio co-shareholder, was the first company to market a zero-emission hydrogen solution for light commercial vehicles for the Peugeot e-Expert, Citroën e-Jumpy and Opel Vivaro-e models. The company is expanding its range to include large vans with a mid-power architecture, a range of up to 500 km and a recharge time of less than 10 minutes.

Stellantis confirmed its plans to develop a hydrogen technology for its Ram brand pickups, in line with its aim of electrifying its portfolio of vehicles with a range of 320 miles ALVW or 200 miles GCWR and fast tank refilling, without compromising on payload capacity. All these vehicles will be equipped with fuel cells produced by Symbio.

In partnership with the German group Schaeffler, Symbio has set up a 50/50 joint-venture, Innoplate, to produce bipolar plates (BPPs), a strategic component in fuel cells. (Earlier post.) Based in Alsace, France, Innoplate will be operational in the first quarter of next year with an initial capacity of 4 million BPPs, rising to around 50 million BPPs annually and employing more than 120 people by 2030.

Innoplate will help accelerate the production of new-generation BPPs for the PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell market, improving performance and competitiveness while reducing costs.

SymphonHy is part of HyMotive, a strategic industrial and technological project supported by the European Union and the French government via the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

HyMotive represents a total multi-year investment of €1 billion. It plans to build a second gigafactory, doubling its overall production capacity in France to 100,000 systems a year by 2028. The project also aims to develop technology to support the competitiveness of fuel cell technology, with the aim of achieving parity with battery-powered electric mobility and traditional thermal technology by 2030.

From a workforce of 50 in 2019, Symbio now employs over 750 people and expects to create 1,000 jobs as a result of the HyMotive project.



Anyone else loath the term 'gigafactory?'

It is a factory, if you want inefficient giga, then Baton Rouge built by Ford 100 years ago was giga.

In the bin. along with 'literally' which is usually anything but,


50,000 what? All this is a bit confusing.
50,000 fuel cells systems for cars? A FC system for a car and a FC system for a semi are very different beasts.

Is the billion dollars the budget of this factory, or the budget for the two planned factories? It seems a bit expensive if it's just one factory of this size.


The River Rouge plant started over 100 years ago was indeed the vision of Henry Ford to build an automobile from raw material (iron ore and timber) to finished product - a true “Giga” plant. However, in 1981 when I was in Dearborn working for Boeing recall that Ford sold the steel plant. (BTW Baton Rouge is in Louisiana.)
Quote from Bill Ford:
"My great-grandfather would have ore boats come from the U.P. to Detroit with iron ore and timber to the Rouge and within 24 hours a finished vehicle would come out. There was nothing like that in the country,"


On the Symbio website, the FC is for commercial applications, i.e. trucks, vans, etc.



They are talking present 16,000 future 50,000 fuel cell systems of varying sizes, mostly small range extenders in their vans, but also some much larger units for trucks.


In 1915, Henry Ford purchased marshland in Dearborn, Michigan near the Rouge River for the site of the new Rouge plant.


Anyone else loath the term 'gigafactory?'

I loath the misuse of the term. At 50kunits per year a more apropos term would be a kilo factory.

This sounds reminiscent of Hyundai’s 2016 claim that within 18 months they would be producing 15k FCEVs per year. Circa 2018 they announced that they would have 30k capacity “post 2020” which they subsequently clarified to mean 2021. This year they are on pace to produce fewer than 8k FCEVs. They have a ways to go before they reach “compliance car” level. At this point I’d say they are at large scale proof of concept.

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