Motor industry giants team up to enhance fuel cell electric vehicle market

29th January 2013

Three of the biggest names in the motoring industry have announced a collaboration in order to enhance the ideas surrounding hydrogen fuel cell technologies.

Ford, Nissan and Daimler – the firm behind the production of Mercedes-Benz vehicles – are teaming up in order to jointly develop the new fuel cells.

However, the agreement could well expand to four brands working on the innovative technology in the near future, seeing as though Nissan already has a technology-sharing partnership strategy in place with French vehicle giant Renault.

Regardless of whether or not Renault becomes involved in the joint development, the three-way agreement is set to initially focus on the research of fuel cell stacks and associated systems.

The end product of this stage of the agreement is hoped to be a common fuel cell powertrain that can be used by Nissan, Ford and Daimler in otherwise completely differentiated and unique car designs.

By 2017 though, the three firms hope to have expanded their collaboration to the point of standardising the form of fuelling systems necessary to quickly and efficiently construct a useful hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in the motoring industry.

Another aim by Ford, Nissan and Daimler, through equal investment opportunities, is to eventually produce fuel-cell electric vehicles which are launched onto the market with a much lower price tag than what is seen in the new car scene at the moment.

German firm Daimler acknowledged as much in a press release detailing the three-way agreement. The company stated: "The collaboration sends a clear signal to suppliers, policymakers and the industry to encourage further development of hydrogen refuelling stations and other infrastructure necessary to allow the vehicles to be mass-marketed."

Ford, Nissan and Daimler are three firms which are no strangers to the development of environmentally-friendly vehicles, having amassed more than 60 years of cumulative experience constructing fuel-cell electric vehicles.

In fact, the fuel-cell electric vehicles constructed by the trio of companies have already clocked up in excess of ten million kilometres in test drivers over the years.

However, Mitsuhiko Yamashita, member of the board of directors and executive vice president of the Nissan Motor Company, believes that this part of the car industry is still in its youth.

"Fuel cell electric vehicles are the obvious next step to complement today's battery electric vehicles as our industry embraces more sustainable transportation," Mr Yamashita, who also supervises research and development at the Japanese car maker, explained.

"We look forward to a future where we can answer many customer needs by adding fuel cell electric vehicles on top of battery electric vehicles within the zero-emission line-up."

Rounding out the support for the three-way agreement was Raj Nair, group vice president of global product development at the Ford Motor Company, who underlined that the collaboration of the vehicle manufacturing giants "will significantly help speed this technology to market at a more affordable cost to our customers".

Mr Nair stressed: "We will all benefit from this relationship as the resulting solution will be better than any one company working alone."

ATS Euromaster supplies batteries of every design for use on leisure vehicles and motorcycles.

Posted by Fuel cell electric vehicles are to be closely analysed by Ford, Nissan and Daimler in the years to come