Hyzon Motors is to shut down its hydrogen truck factory in Europe, Hydrogen Insight has learned, just ten months after the troubled US truckmaker was forced to buy out its European joint-venture partner amid accusations of “operational inefficiencies” at the facility.

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Hyzon Europe’s 500-trucks-per-year facility in Winschoten, northern Netherlands, first opened in 2021, amid promises that it would double capacity by 2022.

But now the company appears to be paring back operations, turning its only European factory into a research and engineering facility — and unions remain sceptical as to whether even this will remain open for long.

“The plant was the European base for Hyzon,” Masja Zwart, regional director for the FNV, the Netherlands' largest trade union, tells Hydrogen Insight.

“They will close down the production in Europe and only maintain the research and engineering facility,” she added. “The viability of that in Winschoten remains to be seen, but that’s my opinion. We are negotiating a severance plan for the lay-off of 20-35 workers.”

However, the US company told Hydrogen Insight it had not finalised its plans for the plant.

Hyzon is pursuing a programme of cost-cutting that involves shedding assets and farming out truck assembly to a third party in the wake of the ensuing stock market rout that almost saw it de-listed from Nasdaq.

The company has already embraced this approach in the US, where its trucks are assembled by North Carolina-based Fontaine, which has factories across ten US locations.

No European partner has been announced by Hyzon, although it said in June that it is “actively engaging” with potential third-party assemblers for the region.

The shift in strategy will “simplify our integrated global supply chain... lowering expenses and improving cycle times,” the company said in its Q2 results announcement in June. “It will also allow us to monetise excess and obsolete inventory across our global operations; and it will help us work more efficiently by eliminating the waste of duplication of effort across regions, by improving knowledge-sharing across teams and fostering practical, continuous improvement.”

A spokesperson for Hyzon said: "Hyzon Motors has been evaluating and streamlining its global operations, and transitioning its international regions to the third-party assembly model operated the United States. As a result of these strategic initiatives, we are shifting our European operations and will share updates when available."

The Winschoten factory was operated by Hyzon's joint-venture partner in Europe Holthausen until December 2022, when a dispute between the two companies resulted in Hyzon buying out Holthausen's 49.9% stake in Hyzon Europe for more than double the price of its own shares.

Among Hyzon’s grievances were perceived “inefficiencies” in the day-to-day operation of Winschoten, while the US company and two executives faced accusations of “misleading” investors in a fraud case brought by US regulators, which was recently settled for $25m.

Max Holthausen, former managing director of Hyzon Europe, alongside former Hyzon chief executive Craig Knight, have also paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle the case brought against them as individuals by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — although neither they nor the company have admitted or denied the allegations.

UPDATED: to add further statement from Hyzon Motors, stipulating that no plans have been finalised.