Ford Motor Company, Mercedes-Benz's parent company Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance announced on Monday that they signed a three-way agreement concerning the joint development of a common fuel cell electric vehicle system.
The deal, which was signed in Yokohama, Japan, by Tomas Weber (Daimler), Raj Nair (Ford) and Mitshuhiko Yamashita (Nissan), aims to accelerate the development time of fuel cell technology, maximize design commonality and reduce costs through economies of scale.
The three companies, which between them have 60 years and more than 10 million km (16 million miles) in developing and testing fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), will participate equally in the joint development of a fuel cell stack and system that will then be used by each company on in its own, distinct vehicles, with the first batch expected to hit the market by 2017.
An FCEV is a zero-emission vehicle. Its main difference, though, to today’s all-electric cars is that it generates its own electricity by converting hydrogen, which is stored in a special tank, through an electro-chemical reaction with air oxygen. Thus, it doesn’t need to be charged, like EVs, and its only by-products are water vapor and heat.
Fuel-cell electric vehicles are thought to be the next step towards emissions-free propulsion systems, though, the three companies comment that they consider them to be “complimentary” to today’s battery-powered EVs.
By Andrew Tsaousis