Volvo Group  and fuel delivery systems and component company Westport,  have announced they have inked a non-binding letter of intent to establish a joint venture to accelerate the commercialisation and global adoption of Westport’s HPDI fuel system technology for long-haul and off-road applications.

In the statement from Westport it says that Volvo and Westport “share the vision of creating sustainable transport solutions to accelerate the decarbonisation efforts of global trucking, engine, and equipment manufacturers for their customers and society”.

According to Westport its HPDI fuel system is a “high-performance solution supporting significant carbon reductions in hard-to-abate sectors like heavy-duty and off-road mobility”.

it claims its HPDI system enables trucking and off-road equipment manufacturers to address the challenges of meeting the regulatory requirements of Euro 7 and the US EPA while offering end users affordable options that are powered by carbon-neutral fuels like biogas, zero-carbon fuels like green hydrogen and other renewable fuels.

In the statement it goes on to say that while Volvo will be a key customer of the proposed joint venture, the JV’s mandate will be to enhance commercialisation of HPDI “through the addition of new trucking and equipment manufacturers as customers”.

Westport says it will contribute current HPDI assets and activities including related fixed assets, intellectual property, and business into the joint venture. Volvo will  apparently acquire a 45 per cent interest in the joint venture for the sum of approximately $AUD41 million ($US28 million), plus up to an additional $AUD66 million ($US45 million)  depending on the performance of the joint venture. 

Volvo says its ambition is to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission-enabled products, solutions, and services by 2040. Volvo says it believes that the future will demand diverse propulsion solutions for diverse applications to meet customers’ needs and environmental demands. Volvo advocates for a three-pronged approach: battery-electric, fuel-cell electric and internal combustion engines.

 “Decarbonisation with internal combustion engines running on renewable fuels, especially with HPDI, plays an important part in sustainable solutions,” said Lars Stenqvist, chief technology officer of Volvo.

“HPDI has been on the road in Volvo trucks for more than five years and is a proven technology that allows customers to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in LBG (liquefied biogas) applications here and now and is a potential avenue for hydrogen,” said Stenqvist.

“Westport is advancing fuel system solutions to help our customers affordably address the most pressing challenge of carbon reduction, while continuing to utilize existing manufacturing infrastructure,” said David Johnson, chief executive officer, Westport.

“The joint venture with Volvo is a natural extension of both companies’ commitment to accelerating global carbon reduction and we are proud to partner with such a bold supporter of the future of the internal combustion engine,” said Johnson.

“Combining our expertise strengthens HPDI’s position in the market and underscores Westport’s commitment to developing affordable fuel system technology that supports significant CO2 reductions in hard-to-abate sectors like heavy-duty transport and off-road applications, including a pathway to power equipment with zero carbon fuels like hydrogen,” he added.

According to the statement, the completion of the joint venture is conditional on the successful negotiations and execution of a definitive investment agreement, joint venture agreement, supply agreement, and development agreement. The joint venture is expected to launch in the first half of 2024.

Westport claims HPDI is the most cost-effective way to reduce CO2 in long-haul trucking and other high-load and off-road applications.

The company adds that its HPDI fuel system is a complete system offering OEMs the flexibility to differentiate their biogas, natural gas, hydrogen, and other fuel product lines easily while also maintaining maximum commonality with their conventional diesel-fueled products.

It claims the greenhouse gas-emitting fuels like diesel can be replaced with carbon-neutral or zero-carbon fuels like biogas or hydrogen while maintaining the durability, affordability, efficiency, and performance characteristics that have come to be associated with the diesel engine.

Westport also says the HPDI fuel system consists of a fully integrated “tank to tip” solution, based on diesel technology and says that at the heart of the engine is a revolutionary patented injector with a dual concentric needle design. A small amount of pilot fuel (which can be diesel  or a biodiesel renewable fuel) is injected into the cylinder prior to the gas to initiate the ignition.

It claims that engines can achieve higher horsepower and torque by using direct injection and relying on high pressures in the combustion chamber for ignition.

As a result it says that the characteristic of the engine using an HPDI fuel system is very similar to a diesel engine.

Westport says that  the HPDI system is designed for heavy long-haul and distribution operations as well as off-road applications like mining, rail, and marine, and offers an alternative with low climate impact while meeting the highest industry standards for performance, fuel efficiency, and operating range required for heavy-duty transport.

It claims that a truck equipped with the HPDI system is an ideal solution for fleets wanting to reduce their fuel costs and offer decarbonised regional and long-distance road transport solutions to their customers with no compromise on vehicle performance.