Plug Power customer BMW now operating largest hydrogen fuel cell fleet in North America

BMW manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, SC, expands use of fuel cells for material handling trucks and forklifts.
By Modern Materials Handling Staff
June 06, 2013 - MMH Editorial

Plug Power, a leader in fuel cell technology for forklifts, today announced that BMW Manufacturing Co. recently expanded the use of Plug Power hydrogen fuel cells at its Spartanburg, S.C., facility to power all material handling trucks and forklifts, bringing its fleet to 275 units. This makes it the largest such fleet in North America.

In 2010, after installing a storage and distribution area for hydrogen supplied by Linde Industrial Gases near its 4 million-square-foot production facility in Spartanburg, BMW equipped more than 100 forklift trucks and pallet jacks in its X3 assembly hall with Plug Power’s GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell system. Now, BMW has added GenDrive units to another 175 trucks and forklifts in the assembly hall for its X5 and X6 automobiles and in its paint and body shops.

Clean GenDrive hydrogen fuel cells are an alternative to lead-acid batteries in the $20 billion global material handling market. Use of the fuel cells aims at lowering operational costs and emissions while improving reliability. Fuel cell usage also eliminates the need for large battery storage and charging rooms, freeing up valuable production space.

BMW chose to deploy GenDrive fuel cells in its manufacturing center to full take advantage of those and other benefits, such as increased productivity for both vehicle operators and production.

“BMW’s ongoing commitment to clean production is evident in our recent expansion of our hydrogen fuel cell program,” said Duncan Seaman, BMW Group, Head of Market Operations, Americas. “We appreciate Linde’s partnership in supporting the expansion, making our entire operation more sustainable.”

“The expansion of BMW’s hydrogen fuel cell material handling fleet in Spartanburg makes BMW one of the world’s largest users of hydrogen fuel cells at a single site,” said Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power. “This milestone is significant because it demonstrates that a GenDrive solution can profitably scale to bring enormous benefits to the organization including increased productivity, cost savings and carbon-footprint reductions.”

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About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.


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