Oct 9, 2020 - Economy

Oil giant Total invests in hydrogen truck startup Hyzon Motors

hydrotruck. Image courtesy of Hyzon Motors

Image courtesy of Hyzon Motors

The huge multinational oil-and-gas company Total SE is investing in the hydrogen fuel cell truck and bus startup Hyzon Motors, the companies announced this morning.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of increasing interest in hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles amid moves by startups and legacy automakers alike. It also shows how European-headquartered oil giants are boosting their alternative energy portfolios, even though hydrocarbons remain their dominant business lines.

  • Total's VC arm is leading the funding round that also has participation from Ascent Hydrogen Fund, Hydrogen Capital Partners and Audacy Ventures Ltd.

Yes, but: The size of the investments in Hyzon were not disclosed, but Bloomberg reports that they're relatively small. The funding round "totaled more than $15 million and valued Hyzon at around $200 million," it reports.

What's next: Hyzon says it plans to deliver around 5,000 fuel cell trucks and buses over the next three years from its facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. The company, a spinoff out of Singapore-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, says it currently has roughly 400 trucks and buses on the roads.

The big picture: Hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles are having a moment even though it remains a small market with plenty of barriers to major growth. Two recent examples...

  • Hyundai delivered its first XCIENT fuel cell heavy-duty trucks to European customers this week and announced plans to bring hydrogen-powered trucks to the U.S. and China, too. It plans to build up to 2,000 trucks a year starting in 2021.
  • Toyota and its subsidiary Hino said Monday they're developing a fuel cell heavy truck for the North American market, with a demonstration model arriving in the first half of 2021.

The intrigue: It has been a busy stretch for Total's growing cleantech portfolio and investments.

  • This week Total made its latest renewables investment by taking a 20% stake in a floating wind project off the French coast.
  • Last week Total announced the acquisition of Blue Point London, the city's largest EV charging network.
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