Ford and Daimler recently added another partner to their fuel-cell
alliance. Nissan Motor partnered up with the two to work together
developing hydrogen technology that can be used in fuel-cell electric vehicles.
The goal is to bring to market the first mass-market fuel-cell electric cars
that are actually affordable by 2017.
The partners are sharing costs equally on their quest to
develop common fuel-cell stacks and other systems that will “speed up
availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment
costs,” according to a statement. Thomas Weber, Daimler’s research and
development head said at a news conference in Germany that while the time frame
was unclear, they hoped to produce 100,000 vehicles.
and Toyota inked a fuel-cell partnership just last week, saying they would
work together on new technology.
While the new timeline represents a bit of a retreat for
Daimler who had claimed they would have a fuel-cell car to market in 2014-2015,
the new alliance is a very positive step forward. It would allow them to go
directly to large-scale production as the three automakers each plan on
bringing a large number of fuel-cell cars to market.
Fuel Cell Cars are
the Next Step Forward
Experts say that fuel cell technology is the next step when
it comes to zero-emission vehicles. Forming alliances makes good business
sense, making it easier to place large orders for components which drive down
the cost of fuel-cell technology.
While the current costs of manufacturing fuel-cell battery
vehicles is more than twice the cost of lithium-ion battery vehicles, as the
cars come to market those costs should drop quickly. Recent troubles with
Boeing’s Dreamliner have also raised safety concerns about lithium-ion battery
Daimler and Ford have been working together since 2008 at
the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation
which is based in Vancouver, Canada. This is not set to change because of the
new alliance. The partners are excited to offer fuel-cell technology in
addition to models that already make use of battery electrics, hybrids, diesels
and gasoline direct injection.
One of the major hurdles to bring fuel-cell technology to
the open market is the lack of hydrogen stations in deployment markets. Even
California lacks a sufficient number of refilling stations to make fuel-cell
cars convenient for drivers. The three automakers announced that their alliance
sends a clear message to suppliers as well as state policy makers that the
industry is going to pursue fuel-cell technology and that the necessary
infrastructure should be developed. If the proper infrastructure was in place,
fuel-cell cars could overcome the major shortcoming of pure electric vehicles,
mainly the lack of range.
Daimler is putting their money where their mouth is and joined
gas producer Linde to install 20 hydrogen filling stations located throughout
Nissan recently joined Ford and Daimler to
become the third member of an alliance to develop fuel-cell technology. All
three automakers have a vested interested in bringing fuel-cell cars to market.