Automakers pull together to support fuel cell vehicles

The world's leading fuel cell vehicle manufacturers – Daimler, Ford, General Motors/Opel, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, the Renault-Nissan alliance and Toyota – have issued an unprecendented joint statement, with a Letter of Understanding (LoU) that commits them to the market introduction of fuel cell vehicles from 2015. This is just the blink of an eye in automotive development terms, and thus the signing marks a major step towards the serial production of such zero-emission vehicles.

The signatory automobile manufacturers strongly anticipate that from 2015 onwards a significant number of fuel cell vehicles could be commercialized. This number is aimed at a few hundred thousand units over their life cycle on a worldwide basis. As each of these vehicle manufacturers will implement their own specific production and commercial strategies as well as timelines, the commercialization of FCVs may even occur earlier than 2015.

With steadily increasing road traffic in recent years and vehicle ownership expected to grow, there will be increased priority on low- and zero-emission vehicles, and an increasing focus on overall CO2 reduction. Over the last decade, governments, car makers and the energy sector have given special attention to the introduction of hydrogen as a fuel for road transport, as a priority option to reach several goals associated with emissions management and CO2 reduction. Current demonstration projects involving fuel retail companies, utility providers and engineering companies have shown that the production, storage, transportation, and deployment of efficient equipment for hydrogen as a fuel are technically feasible.

To ensure the successful market introduction of fuel cell vehicles, a hydrogen infrastructure has to be built up with sufficient density. The network is required by 2015, and should be built up from metropolitan areas via corridors into area-wide coverage. The signatory manufacturers strongly support the idea of building up a hydrogen infrastructure in Europe, with Germany as regional starting point, and at the same time developing similar concepts for the market penetration of hydrogen infrastructure in other regions of the world, including the US, Japan and Korea as further starting points.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells