WardsAuto – “Hydrogen technology developing faster than market demand”

In an article by Penton-owned Auto-industry news and data service WardsAuto, Executive Director of the EU PPI Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative; Bert De Colvenaer is quoted as saying “there is no market for this technology”.

It’s an interesting statement to make at a time when three major manufacturers (Hyundai, Mercedes and Toyota) have announced they will be launching fuel cell vehicles in 2 years time.

Clearly there is not going to be a market for a technology which is still prohibitively expensive, and requires a refuelling infrastructure that doesn’t yet exist, but I think the point that Bert De Colvenaer is making, is that 2015 is the earliest that the market may exist, and as such there is likely to be a blend of technologies before any one dominates, if indeed any one technology does become dominant.

The EU are investing €1.4bn in to the technology through the Public/Private initiative, with a view to making the technology cheaper and to support and generate a demand and a market for the technology – they recognise that Hydrogen has a part to play in the move to cleaner vehicles and a reduction in emissions and pollutants.

While the likes of Hyundai, Mercedes and (more…)

Car giant GM and the Big Green Machine partner on fuel cell research
Fuel cell vehicles

Car giant GM and the Big Green Machine partner on fuel cell research

Greening the Big Green Machine and getting more value from US tax dollars at the same time – one of the world’s largest car manufacturers by volume, partners with the world’s largest military force: only good can come of this…

General Motors and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center are expanding their collaboration in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Through a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, GM and TARDEC will jointly test new hydrogen fuel cell-related materials and designs to evaluate their performance and durability before assembling them into full-scale fuel cell propulsion systems.

This collaborative effort will enable GM and TARDEC to jointly develop technology that meets both of their requirements, accomplishing more tangible results than either entity could achieve on its own. The project is expected to continue for up to five years.

“GM welcomes the opportunity to further expand our work with TARDEC developing fuel cell technology,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s global fuel cell engineering activities. “We believe hydrogen fuel cell technology holds tremendous potential to one day help reduce our dependence on petroleum and we are committed to building on our leadership through the continued development.”

This (more…)

Toyota Chairman Uchiyamada backs hybrids and fuel cells over EVs

In a presentation to the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada has predicted that hybrid vehicles will play a larger role in the future development of automotive propulsion systems than widely recognized, and fuel cells will be the next step.

“Some people say hybrid vehicles such as the Prius are only a bridge to the future. But we think it could be a long bridge and a very sturdy one”

“In each of the previous moves to a new generation [of the Prius], we achieved a 10 percent increase in mileage per gallon, we are committed to beating that record this time.”

“Today I wish to call on the industry to sell 5 million hybrids in the U.S. by the end of 2016… …It’s only when we put ourselves under the same kind of intense pressure we faced in developing the Prius that we can achieve great goals. That’s what it takes. I want our industry to achieve this goal.”

Toyota, like Daimler Mercedes, are committing to fuel cells and compare them favourably over EVs, encouraging a technology battle that some would say needn’t exist, as both solutions have a role to play in future transport.

For the longer term; (more…)

Daimler ask the German government to invest in H2 refuelling infrastructure
Fuel cells

Daimler ask the German government to invest in H2 refuelling infrastructure

At Frankfurt last month, Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG stated “hydrogen fuel cell is long-term mobility solution”, and when questioned about the delayed launch of the fuel cell powered B-Class, he said: “Our decision [to delay] was based on the infrastructure situation. We have shifted it a few years to 2016 or 2017… …Technology-wise we are nearly ready, but where are the fuel stations?”

Three weeks later Daimler announce the H2 Mobility initiative: a plan for the construction of a hydrogen refuelling network in Germany.

  • 400 hydrogen refuelling filling stations by 2023
  • Overall investment of around €350 million planned
  • Precondition: the market success of fuel cell powered electric vehicles initiated

This is good news for low emission vehicles, but that last point is probably quite a big one, effectively a caveat that the German government needs to support H2…

“a request for support to the German Federal Government. Following the foundation of a joint venture (subject to necessary regulatory approvals), gradual expansion of the national filling station network will commence next year…

…Continuation of the innovation and research activities in this field which are envisaged in the mobility and fuel strategy of the (more…)

Smith Vehicles & Germany’s Proton Power systems develop fuel cell truck

Smith Vehicles & Germany’s Proton Power systems develop fuel cell truck

Smith Vehicles & Germany’s Proton Power systems have jointly developed the world’s first electrically operated commercial vehicle in the 7.5 to 12 tonne class.

The truck uses a battery and a HyRange fuel cell system from Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH. The vehicle is based on the battery-powered Newton vehicle built by Smith Electric Vehicles.

Proton Motor has integrated a HyRange hydrogen fuel cell system with an output of 8kW into the vehicle which supplies the battery with electrical energy. This significantly improves the vehicle’s range and enables power to be supplied to the driver cabin air conditioning unit or additional equipment such as electrically powered refrigeration units.

The vehicle is available immediately for field testing by interested customers in the box van and tail lift configuration. The project was supported by funding from the NIP (National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation programme).

Dr. Francoise Faiz Nahab, Managing Director of Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, said: “We developed our HyRange system for buses and commercial vehicles for innercity use. The vehicles are extremely quiet and emissions free. This is an optimal solution for every city that needs to meet the planned environmental targets. We are very proud of the results of our (more…)

Honda and GM to co-develop fuel cell technology, but not cars, is that clear?

Honda have officially announced their partnership with GM to develop Hydrogen powertrains. They want it to be clear that they wont be making cars together though, I hope that’s clear.

Many of the World’s major manufacturers are developing both battery and fuel cell technology in parallel, because both will have a role in future transportation – Ford seem to a be an exception at the moment, having recently dropped development in favour of battery electric.

Fuel cell vehicles for the masses are still a little way off – you can lease a Honda FCX-Clarity, but it’s not quite a car for the masses with around 200 available worldwide. And despite having been in production for 10 years, the cost hasn’t dropped enough to make it viable for the average consumer.

And as with battery cars needing a charge network, fuel cell cars need a fuelling network, and with so few cars available and at such high prices, there isn’t a huge incentive to invest in the infrastructure.

Personally I think the answer is to build battery EVs with space for a lift-in fuel cell – in densely populated areas the charge infrastructure will exist by the time fuel cells are a practical reality, so (more…)