Three of the world’s biggest car manufacturers – Ford, Nissan and Daimler, the company behind Mercedes Benz, have signed a three-way hydrogen fuel cell development agreement in an effort to bring affordable, mass market fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to market by 2017.
The companies, which have already been separately working on the technology, plan to jointly develop a common hydrogen fuel cell system, which if successfully developed, they believe will significantly reduce the cost of zero-emission technology and make it more widely available and some countries, such as the UK, are actively developing fuel cell and hydrogen technology manufacturing and their related supply chains.
"We are convinced that fuel cell vehicles will play a central role for zero-emission mobility in the future,” said Thomas Weber, member of the board of management of Daimler AG, group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development.
“Thanks to the high commitment of all three partners we can put fuel cell e-mobility on a broader basis. This means with this cooperation we will make this technology available for many customers around the globe."
The goal of the collaboration is to jointly develop a common fuel cell electric vehicle system while reducing investment costs associated with the engineering of the technology.
The strategy is to develop a common fuel stack and fuel cell system design which can be used in a wide range of vehicles, and harness the economies of scale by manufacturing the result across all three companies to make the technology affordable. Each company will invest equally in the project.
"Working together will significantly help speed this technology to market at a more affordable cost to our customers," said Raj Nair, group vice president of global product development at Ford. "We will all benefit from this relationship as the resulting solution will be better than any one company working alone."
The collaboration aims to send 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.
"Fuel cell electric vehicles are the obvious next step to complement today's battery electric vehicles as our industry embraces more sustainable transportation," said Mitsuhiko Yamashita, executive vice president of Nissan. "We look forward to a future where we can answer many customer needs by adding FCEVs on top of battery EVs within the zero-emission line-up."