Symbio inaugurates its first gigafactory SymphonHy

Symbio inaugurates its first gigafactory SymphonHy, Europe's largest integrated site producing hydrogen fuel cells, supporting the deployment of sustainable and efficient mobility.default
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 6, 2023 – Symbio, an equally owned joint venture between Forvia, Michelin and Stellantis, is inaugurating SymphonHy today, its first gigafactory, a center of technological and industrial excellence.

Located in Saint-Fons, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, SymphonHy is the largest integrated fuel cell production site in Europe, confirming Symbio’s role as a technological and industrial leader. The site houses the Group’s headquarters, a production plant, an innovation hub of unparalleled dimension, and the Symbio Hydrogen Academy. With its state-of-the-art technology, SymphonHy has a high level of automation and robotics supporting large-scale industrial production at a more competitive cost. These developments are key to accelerate the roll-out of competitive, high-performance hydrogen-powered transport, and contribute to the energy transition and the ambitions of Europe to move towards net zero.  

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

SymphonHy will enable Symbio to support its customers in making zero-emission hydrogen mobility an affordable reality, without compromising performance.  

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 requirements 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.  

With SymphonHy, Symbio is able to support its customers, pioneers of hydrogen-powered transport, in their deployment plans, which are already showing promise now, in real life.  

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 today 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.  

Philippe ROSIER, CEO of SYMBIO: “SymphonHy is proof of Europe’s industrial and technological leadership. Together with the entire ecosystem and our private and public partners, we are ready to scale up and make hydrogen electric mobility, a sustainable, high-performance, and affordable reality. Delivered in less than two years, SymphonHy is testimonial of Symbio’s ability to meet its industrial commitments, underpinning the acceleration of zero-emission hydrogen mobility deployment. The first 100% fuel cell system assembled at SymphonHy was produced in October 2023, just one month after the gigafactory became operational.”    

Patrick KOLLER, CEO of FORVIA: “A few weeks after inaugurating two major FORVIA sites in France to accelerate the decarbonization of mobility, I’m delighted to be part of this new step for Symbio, which is now sized to meet the challenges of the global market. This plant is further proof of our commitment to zero emission mobility. FORVIA believes in hydrogen technology as the only complementary credible alternative to battery electrification. With Symbio, we cover 75% of the hydrogen mobility value chain, from fuel cells to storage systems. We are working to develop innovative solutions to improve the range of our customers’ fuel cell electric vehicles. In 2022, FORVIA delivered 10,000 hydrogen tanks worldwide, a record and an important milestone in our quest to become number 1.”   

Florent MENEGAUX, CEO of MICHELIN:“Michelin was a very early believer in hydrogen and in Symbio, which we acquired before turning it into a joint venture with Forvia in 2019. The entry of Stellantis into the capital this year confirms that hydrogen meets a constant concern to support the future of mobility. This technology is now proving to be an essential addition to satisfy the need for longer range, particularly for commercial vehicles, which are starting to be fitted out. It’s no coincidence that the Group recently announced a range of hydrogen-powered vehicles through its subsidiary Watèa by Michelin, a mobility operator specializing in the energy transition of business fleets, with an offer of hydrogen vehicle.”   

Carlos TAVARES, CEO of STELLANTIS: “Symbio is the proof that three French-rooted and leading companies in their respective fields can join forces and expertise to be at the forefront. Today’s inauguration marks an important step as hydrogen is part of the mix of technologies we are bringing forward for commercial vehicle customers. This technology is a building block of the powerful electrification ecosystem we are developing to support our bold goal to reach, by 2030, 100% electric sales in Europe and 50% in the U.S. As Stellantis’ purpose is to ‘lead the way the world moves,’ hydrogen will contribute to reaching our ambitious carbon net zero by 2038 target, ahead of the competition in our fight against climate change.”   

Moreover, 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. 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 c. 50 million BPPs annually and employing over 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.

Fuel cell technology complements battery technology for sustainable electric mobility. It is ideal for intensive and demanding professional usages entailing heavy loads, long distances, and quick refilling times. It is particularly well-suited to business transport.

HyMotive, a strategic industrial and technological project, creating jobs

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 ground-breaking 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.  

Symbio, a global leader in fuel cells

The Group confirms its aim of becoming a world-class industrial champion of fuel cell technology.

Symbio has also been based in the United States since 2021, already benefiting from a pilot plant in California that is sourced from the Group’s European facilities during a first phase. Currently, Symbio is already looking for opportunities to expand and build a new fuel cell gigafactory in the U.S., to support the promising hydrogen mobility dynamics in North America.

SymphonHy is helping to define fuel cell production standards that will serve as the industrial model for its new sites, in line with Symbio’s aim to produce 200,000 units worldwide by 2030.