Symbio, a joint venture equally owned by Forvia, Michelin, and Stellantis, has opened SymphonHy – a gigafactory that will produce fuel cells for use in hydrogen FCEVs.

Located in Saint-Fons, a commune in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France, the facility will offer an integrated fuel cell production site, while also housing Symbio’s headquarters, an innovation hub, and the Symbio Hydrogen Academy. The JV’s first gigafactory will utilize a high level of automation and advanced robotics to enable the large-scale industrial production of fuel cells at a reduced cost.

Together, these developments will ultimately work to achieve SymphonHy’s core goal to accelerate the rollout of competitive, high-performance, transport powered by hydrogen while contributing to Europe’s broader energy transition and net-zero ambitions. Looking ahead, SymphonHy will look to help define fuel cell production standards that will, in turn, serve as the industrial model for its new sites as it supports Symbio’s goal to produce 200,000 units worldwide by 2030.

Symbio itself offers a broad portfolio of solutions designed to meet the power, durability, and autonomy required to enable efficient zero-emission mobility solutions. Through SymphonHy, it will look to support its customer base, primarily made up of hydrogen-powered transport providers, as they roll out and deploy their own solutions. Stellantis, for example, will leverage the fuel cells made at SymphonHy as it expands its range of FCEVs, introducing new large vans that offer a mid-power architecture, a driving range of up to 310 miles (500 km), and a recharge time of under 10 minutes. The corporation also announced its plans to develop hydrogen technology for new Ram brand pickups, which themselves will also be equipped with fuel cells produced at SymphonHy.

While inaugurating its gigafactory, Symbio also announced a new partnership with Schaeffler to establish Innoplate, a 50:50 joint venture that will produce bipolar plates, a component found in hydrogen fuel cells. The companies confirmed that Innoplate will begin operating in the first quarter of 2024, initially producing four million bipolar plates annually before scaling up to an annual production capacity of 50 million by 2030. Ultimately, Innoplate aims to accelerate the production of new bipolar plates for the proton exchange membrane fuel cell market, improving performance and competitiveness while reducing costs.

The SymphonHy gigafactory is part of HyMotive, a strategic industrial and technological project supported by the European Union and French government through the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI). The project represents a total, multi-year investment, of €1 billion ($1.07 billion / £858,073). In the future, HyMotive plans to build a second gigafactory, through which it intends to double the annual production capacity in France up to 100,000 systems per year by 2028.

More broadly, HyMotive is aiming to develop new technologies that enhance the competitiveness of fuel cell technologies, looking to achieve parity with battery-powered electric mobility and traditional thermal technology before the end of the decade.