Greener vehicles are all the rage and automakers are beginning an arm’s race of sorts to come up with better hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell development is currently in vogue, as a recent joint venture was announced between Ford, Nissan and Daimler to develop fuel cells, among others.
Ford, Nissan and Daimler announce fuel cell development after Toyota, BMW do
Hydrogen cars seem, on paper anyway, to be a better way to power a car with electricity than lithium-ion batteries. The fuel is compressed hydrogen gas, the only emission is water vapor and there’s no charging, nor expensive home charging stations, required.
Few have come remotely close to being commercially available. A limited number of Mercedes-Benz hydrogen cars were allotted for lease and a limited number of Honda Clarity hydrogen-powered sedans are also available, only for lease and expensively at that. It costs less to lease a Corvette ZR1, the $120,000 unhinged 640 horsepower fire-breathing monster that yearns for the blood of Ferraris and hippies.
Toyota and BMW recently announced a joint-venture for fuel cell development. On the heels of that, a similar venture, according to AutoGuide, has been announced between Daimler, Nissan/Renault and Ford.
Have been at it awhile
All three have previously experimented with fuel cell development. All told, test vehicles from Daimler , like the hydrogen Mercedes, Ford, Nissan and Renault have done 10 million kilometers (about 6.2 million miles) in road tests. The idea is that with the combined experience and resources, it will produce a fuel cell powertrain architecture all three can put to use.
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The goal, according to Bloomberg, is that said powertrain system will be modular, therefore adaptable for any car platform any of said automakers come up with. A new Mercedes-Benz luxury cruiser with incredibly rich hippies in mind? Sensible Nissan family sedan for the eco-conscious? Hydrogen fuel cell-powered Focus? A new Renault mini for tooling around dense European cities? Done.
Might be on the road sooner
Aside from shared funding, another stated goal of the fuel cell development joint venture is that all three groups’ stated aim is getting something that drives and sells, pronto. According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota and BMW have announced their fuel cell drivetrain is due in a road car by 2020, but Ford-Daimler-Nissan/Renault aim to have their fuel cell architecture on the road by 2017.
Bloomberg reports small, front-wheel-drive cars – in other words what basically everybody drives – are likely to be first.
Which car maker gets one out first, remains to be seen. However, before one rushes out and applies for, say, a Brookline Bank auto loan, one should also bear in mind that there are barely any hydrogen fueling stations. Germany has 15. MSN reported 56 existed in the United States as of March 2012. The U.S. Department of Energy report 58 as of Dec. 31, 2012. Almost all are located in California.
US DOE: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/stations_counts.html