Ford, Nissan, and Daimler–parent company of Mercedes-Benz–have announced they’re teaming up to develop affordable fuel-cell cars. With a projected 2017 starting sale date, the partnership could be a major advancement for the zero-emission technology.
This partnership wants to send a message to the industry, suppliers, and policymakers to further the development of hydrogen infrastructure worldwide. Thomas Weber, Daimler AG research and development chief, believes they are never as close to reaching a breakthrough in fuel-cell cars as today thanks to the partnership. Weber also states that this is not a closed partnership. Other manufacturers have been invited, including Nissan’s French global alliance partner, Renault SA.
By investing equal amounts into the project to help with the development of fuel-cell stacks and systems, the partners project at least 100,000 cars will be produced, however no further details have been given. Earlier in the month, Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG also announced a partnership developing fuel-cells, as well as light-weight technologies and common sports car platform.
What is a fuel cell, anyway?
A fuel cell produces electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen, evaporating water as emissions when the car is driven. When compared to battery-powered electric cars, a fuel-cell car has a range close to a combustion engine vehicle, with fueling time comparable to filling a gasoline tank.
With joint developments, manufacturers are able to split the costs and achieve a higher volume of vehicles once production starts, with Weber noting that manufacturers can proceed more quickly with around-the-clock development. Instead of an intermediate step to the fuel-cell project that would produce a smaller number of vehicles with sales starting in 2014, Daimler decided for the longer development time with more vehicles to be produced. Currently, Daimler has a test fleet of around 200 fuel-cell cars.
Source: Automotive News