Bosch, a Germany-based leading global supplier of technology and services, has kicked off construction on its first hydrogen fuel cell plant in China, which is expected to facilitate the technology's application in both commercial and passenger vehicles.
Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising technology due to their light weight, long driving range, short refilling time and zero emissions. The fuel cells are especially suited for use in medium and heavy commercial vehicles that travel long distances.
The plant in Wuxi, Jiangsu province will be mainly engaged in research and development as well as trial production of hydrogen fuel cell products, which will cover a full array of test equipment for key components, stacks and even fuel cell systems, according to senior Bosch executives at the groundbreaking ceremony on Nov 29.
The plant, with construction set to be completed by the end of 2020 and small-scale production scheduled to begin in 2021, will also house a sample production line for stacks.
"As the first of its kind outside Germany (by Bosch), the fuel cell center in Wuxi marks another strategic step for Bosch in boosting the widespread manufacture and adoption of fuel cell products," said Uwe Gackstatter, president of the Bosch Powertrain Solutions Division.
"The advantages of the technology for electrifying heavy commercial vehicles are clear and include zero local emissions, high energy-conversion efficiency and a diverse range of hydrogen sources," he said.
Bosch expects the plant to further strengthen its local research and development as well as manufacturing capabilities and help the company serve the Chinese market in a quicker and more flexible way.
The company said it has started full cooperation on fuel cell technology with Chinese partners, which is also expected to drive innovation in the area.
"China is a strategically relevant market for the development and application of fuel cells," said Wang Weiliang, regional president of Bosch Powertrain Solutions China.
He said the plant in Wuxi will enhance Bosch's local competitiveness, while the development and application of fuel cell key components such as hydrogen injection valves and electronic air compressors, as well as the manufacturing of sample stacks, will create a solid foundation for mass production in the future.
"Furthermore, it will help us better serve our local customers with innovative technology, localized products and flexible business models to support the transformation and upgrade of the Chinese automotive industry," Wang said.
Bosch said it is well-positioned to leverage its solid experience and expertise in fuel cell technology.
Thanks to its competencies in key components and comprehensive system engineering services, the company said it can help carmakers and fuel cell engine manufacturers improve system performance and reliability while reducing both system and vehicle costs.
Besides the plant, Bosch is expanding its presence in the city of Wuxi by establishing an innovation and software center to support its business segments.
The center, with an initial investment of 35 billion yuan ($4.97 billion), will mainly be responsible for innovation as well as research and development in electrification, connected solutions and big data platforms. It is scheduled to be completed and put into service in mid-2020.
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