FRANKFURT -- Daimler and Volvo Trucks have agreed to join forces to develop, produce and sell fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicles, in a sign that the coronavirus crisis is accelerating consolidation.
Global car and truck makers are exploring ways to share costs on new technologies as customers shun showrooms in areas hit by the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, denting profits.
"The common goal is for both companies to offer heavy-duty vehicles with fuel cells for demanding long-haul applications in series production in the second half of the decade," Daimler said in a statement on Tuesday.
The joint venture agreed by the two companies will operate as an independent and autonomous entity, with Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group continuing to be competitors in all other areas of business, the companies said.
"Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems in products used for heavy-duty transport and demanding long-haul applications."
Volvo will acquire 50 percent in the joint venture for around 600 million euros ($650 million), the companies said.
Daimler trucks will bring together all of Daimler's fuel cell activities in a new fuel cell unit, including those of Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH. Automotive and non-automotive usage are also part of the new joint venture's scope.
The preliminary agreement between the two companies is non-binding, with a final deal expected by the third quarter and closing before the end of 2020, the companies said.