Symbio: a pioneering story in hydrogen mobility
Symbio’s story began in 2010 in Grenoble, with a team of engaged engineers determined to be part of the electromobility revolution. Their goal: develop an efficient and compact fuel cell system capable of generating electricity from hydrogen as a sustainable alternative to the internal combustion engine.
A first licensing agreement and R&D cooperation with CEA Liten - a French public research organization, globally renowned for its work with sustainable energy technologies – speeded the launch of Symbio’s first 5kW fuel cell system. Within three years, Symbio had equipped its first passenger vehicle and agreed with Renault to launch open road tests with fuel cell-powered Kangoo light commercial vehicles.
The challenge for hydrogen mobility has always been one of scale and cost. In 2019, Michelin and Faurecia joined forces, pooling their hydrogen fuel cell activities into Symbio as a joint venture company. This has brought together a unique combination of industrial and automotive expertise and innovation capability. Michelin, whose hydrogen activities date back to 2002, contributes in-depth knowledge in hydrogen components, digital services and access to automotive fleet customers; Faurecia brings expertise in fluid dynamics, system design, hydrogen storage solutions, plus proximity to major automakers worldwide.
It adds up to over 30 years’ combined experience in technology know-how, fuel cell testing and vehicle integration, ensuring that next generation future fuel cell systems are engineered to be more efficient, durable and cost competitive. To achieve this, it’s important to invest in developing knowledge, skills and industrial expertise. Strengthening these are also key to the growth and competitivity of the wider hydrogen sector. To overcome the scarcity of competences in the face of growing needs, Symbio launched its H2 Academy in 2021 to provide professional training for future jobs linked to hydrogen mobility and fuel cell systems. By the end of this year, the H2 Academy will have already trained 300 people while aiming to train around 1 000 people per year as from 2022, working with universities, engineering schools, industrial and regional partners. This fits well with Symbio’s ambition: supporting its customers to accelerate hydrogen zero-emission mobility adoption and become a fuel cell technology leader.
Symbio today employs some 400 people across offices in five countries, having expanded its footprint to China and North America in 2021. Its fuel cell systems are currently manufactured near Lyon in France where a pilot factory has already reached a production capacity of around 3000 systems per year. By 2023, production will primarily move to a newly built large-scale industrial- facility – one of Europe’s biggest fuel cell production sites - projected to reach a target of 50,000 hydrogen systems annually within a few years. Symbio’s ambition is to deploy a global industrial footprint across Asia, Europe and North America and reach 200,000 hydrogen systems per year by 2030.
Join us next time for a more in-depth look at how Symbio’s range of fuel cell systems is meeting mobility needs across the zero emissions automotive market – from trucks, buses, light commercial vehicles to passenger cars.
Built around a unique ecosystem, this joint venture is tasked with developing, producing and marketing hydrogen fuel cell systems for light vehicles, commercial vehicles and trucks as well as for other areas of electromobility.