First of all, many thanks to Dave for posting a link in last week’s blog post about the DOE 2012 Annual Report to an article about Ford, Nissan and Daimler joining forces. Because this is such a big story I would like to talk more about it today.
Three of the largest automotive companies (Ford, Renault-Nissan and Daimler – as in Mercedes-Benz and Smart) have formed a strategic partnership to share technology and development fuel cell systems at lower cost than any of the company could do on its own.
According to Daimler, “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. Each company will invest equally towards the project. The strategy to maximize design commonality, leverage volume and derive efficiencies through economies of scale will help to launch the world’s first affordable, mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017.
“Together, Daimler, Ford and Nissan have more than 60 years of cumulative experience developing FCEVs. Their FCEVs have logged more than 10 million km in test drives around the world in customers’ hands and as part of demonstration projects in diverse conditions. The partners plan to develop a common fuel cell stack and fuel cell system that can be used by each company in the launch of highly differentiated, separately branded FCEVs, which produce no CO2 emissions while driving.”
They go onto say, “The collaboration sends a clear signal to suppliers, policymakers and the industry to encourage further development of hydrogen refueling stations and other infrastructure necessary to allow the vehicles to be mass-marketed.”
So, the “chicken or the egg” syndrome has long been a problem with the development of hydrogen autos and infrastructure. Hydrogen auto makers have been reluctant to build vehicles if there is no infrastructure to support them. And, on the other hand, the producers of hydrogen refueling infrastructure have been reluctant to build H2 stations if there are no autos to support them.
The Ford, Nissan and Daimler joint agreement sends a clear signal to the folks building the hydrogen refueling infrastructure including government and business, that they had better put the pedal to the metal in regard to building H2 stations because right now, the development of the autos is far outpacing the building of the fueling stations.