Bosch Is Investing $200 Million To Make Fuel Cells For Hydrogen Trucks In South Carolina

Alan Ohnsman

I follow technology-driven changes that are reshaping transportation.
Bosch plans to start making fuel cell stacks at its Anderson, South Carolina, plant in 2026 for hydrogen trucks.  BOSCH 

Bosch, the German conglomerate that makes everything from dishwashers to industrial software and security systems, is investing $200 million in its auto parts factory in South Carolina to produce fuel cell stacks to supply an emerging market for zero-emission trucks powered by hydrogen.

The company expects to add 350 workers to staff the new assembly line and cleanroom in Anderson, South Carolina, Peter Tadros, Bosch’s North American head of powertrain solutions, tells Forbes. It will be Bosch’s first U.S. fuel cell production site when it’s up and running in 2026. Electric truckmaker Nikola, which Bosch has invested in, will be a key customer for the power devices but it will also sell them to other companies in North America, he said.

“Initial interest in this technology is for the large commercial vehicles,” Tadros said. Nikola will get fuel cells for its trucks from Bosch’s operation in Germany when it starts producing hydrogen trucks next year, but “as a manufacturing partner here with Nikola, Anderson will service them for our regional strategy of local for local,” he said.

The investment comes on the heels of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act signed into law this month that provides incentives for building and buying vehicles powered by hydrogen–as long as it’s “green” and made from sources that emit no carbon pollution. Hydrogen fuel cells are an alternative source of electric power for vehicles, but whereas batteries store electricity for propulsion, fuel cells make it on demand.

In addition to Nikola, companies including Cummins, General Motors, Toyota, Volvo and Daimler are all developing different types of hydrogen-powered trucks that will start hitting the market next year. Battery trucks, which Nikola already sells, work well on shorter runs, ideally less than 300 miles. Companies developing hydrogen-powered versions think that system is a better option for long-haul runs as fuel cell systems aren’t much heavier than diesel engines and the refueling time is comparable.

New U.S. emissions regulations and clean energy programs like the IRA are benefiting the hydrogen industry, Tadros said. “It’s getting the word out there, providing some incentives for manufacturing, and tax credits also help the consumer,” he said. “That combination really supports our view of where hydrogen is going.”

Bosch has had production operations in South Carolina since 1985, where it currently makes sensors and electronic control units for automotive powertrains. It follows companies including GM and Honda, PlugPower and Ballard Power, which already make fuel cells at plants in the U.S. and Canada.

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