Ballard Power Systems and partner Van Hool N.V., announce a dedicated joint European Service and Parts Centre for fuel cell buses (to be called ESPACE) that is operational as of November 2014. The key objective of ESPACE is to support Van Hool fuel cell buses in Europe that are powered by Ballard fuel cell modules.
“We always strive to offer the best, not only in our products, but also in post-sales support, by anticipating and addressing potential issues and communicating clearly with customers,” says Paul Cass, Ballard’s Chief Operations Officer. “ESPACE demonstrates our commitment to customers and partners by offering premium support services.”
With a growing number of Van Hool buses on European roads, powered by Ballard fuel cell modules, it is critical that maintenance and repair activities related to fuel cells and hybrid drive line components be readily available from experienced support personnel. By the end of 2014, there are expected to be 27 of these fuel cell buses in operation in five European cities – 10 in Aberdeen, 5 in Antwerp, 5 in Oslo, 5 in San Remo and 2 in Cologne. ESPACE will ensure safe, reliable operation of these buses and will maximize operating uptime while offering transit agencies more competitive maintenance costs.
Filip Van Hool, CEO of Van Hool N.V. said, “Ballard has been very proactive in helping develop this European customer service center, demonstrating its commitment to customer success. This investment in after-sales support will further the acceptance of zero emission fuel cell buses in our markets.”
ESPACE will be co-located with Van Hool’s Lier, Belgium manufacturing facility, encompassing 120 square meters of space and storing up to 200 parts on-site, including fuel cell modules, batteries as well as electric driveline and hydrogen storage components. Ballard and Van Hool plan to have two dedicated fuel cell service personnel at the facility to provide training and technical assistance to Van Hool and customer representatives as well as to impart knowledge of fuel cell technology and Ballard’s FCvelocity®-HD fuel cell product line. These personnel will also be backed by teams of experts and engineers at both companies.
By liaising between on-site support and the respective corporate engineering departments, ESPACE will help identify the root cause of any reported failure and will accelerate the implementation of remedial plans. Locating ESPACE in Lier, Belgium will enable this process, thanks to the rapid exchange and assessment of collected data, all within similar time zones.