There is no doubt that the future of fuel cell technology is a controversial subject. Skepticism for the commercial viability of FCEVs is due to a number of reasons, but it can usually be boiled down to one of two different perspectives – they’re either too expensive or too redundant.
For example, 4 years ago Wired News condescendingly claimed that “it will be 40 years or more before hydrogen has any meaningful impact on gasoline consumption or global warming”. In other words, according to Wired you shouldn’t look for a production-ready FCEV until 2050!
But it’s not just auto-expert-wannabes that abide these negative perspectives… Just a year and a half ago Dan Akerson, CEO of General Motors, stated that “the car is still too expensive and probably won’t be practical until the 2020-plus period”.
Despite this constant skepticism both within and without the auto-industry, creating a viable FCEV continues to be a major goal for many automakers, including all the major Japanese manufacturers. In fact, there is a good chance that January 2013 will go down in history as the turning point for hydrogen fuel cell technology in commercial automobiles.
Well, earlier this month we saw two global automotive superpowers – Toyota and BMW – join forces to jointly develop mid-size sports cars, lithium-air batteries, and most importantly, fuel-cell vehicle systems. Today, we see another even bigger alliance being struck. Daimler, Ford and Nissan forged an official pact with the explicit goal being to “speed up availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment costs.”
In other words, Daimler, Ford and Nissan are determined to create “the world’s first affordable, mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017”. That’s right – their goal isn’t to produce a vehicle in forty years, or even twenty, or ten… They’re aiming to have a competitively priced fuel-cell powered vehicle on the market in just four years.
Undoubtedly there will be naysayers pointing to the complete lack of current commercial availability despite 20+ years of hydrogen research and development. But, technology is always changing, and these three major manufacturers definitely have the budget, determination and expertise to achieve their goal. A press release states that “each company will invest equally towards the project… 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.”
Let Us Know Your Thoughts:
Ultimately, this new Daimler-Nissan-Ford alliance is a huge milestone for FCEV development. With Toyota and BMW also in the competition, GM and Volkswagen are the only automotive super powers left out in the dark. So, the time has come to pick your side:
Which auto-alliance do you think will create a production ready FCEV first – Toyota and BMW, or Daimler, Ford and Nissan?
Which one will be better? Why? Let us know in the comments below.
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