Automakers are affirming and in some cases accelerating their fuel cell commercialization time tables this summer despite the current controversy over U.S. funding for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
(Washington, DC - June 17, 2009) Automakers are affirming and in some cases accelerating their fuel cell commercialization time tables this summer despite the current controversy over U.S. funding for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
The 10-year U.S. fuel cell vehicle development program is more than halfway complete and has met or exceeded nearly all technical milestones. Ending it now could put the U.S. at a disadvantage at a time when other countries such as Germany and Japan are ramping up their commercialization plans. Based on the public record, the world's largest automakers clearly see fuel cell vehicles as an integral part of their technology response to global warming and energy security.
Anyone who last looked at fuel cell vehicles a few years ago has missed an exceptional acceleration in technology and commercialization and a great high-tech story.
Here are some of the most recent industry announcements and achievements:
• Major automakers are pursuing early market testing with consumers beginning this year, and are expected to ramp up production to nearly 50,000 vehicles in California by 2017, a deployment estimate made public by the California Fuel Cell Partnership, a government-industry consortium.
• Daimler announced it is beginning small series production this summer of its Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell vehicle with plans to increase to tens of thousands of vehicles in the 2015-2017 timeframe. Starting in 2010, a total of ten Daimler latest-generation fuel cell buses will be in operation in Hamburg, plus 20 B-Class fuel cell cars. Shell is adding hydrogen pumps to four public filling stations to support the vehicles.
• Honda FCX Clarity was named "World Green Car of the Year" at NY Auto Show and is currently being leased in small numbers in Southern California and Japan. The Clarity received an EPA certified fuel economy of 72 mpg.
• Toyota reaffirmed its commitment to commercialization in 2015, and said it may accelerate the time table to 2014. Toyota's FCH-adv is regularly achieving a range of 340-370 miles, has achieved a 480 mile range in tests.
• Kia's Borrego fuel cell vehicle also has a range of 340-370 miles.
• General Motors currently has 110 fuel cell vehicles on road in U.S.
• Volkswagen, which has not been a visible fuel cell advocate until recently, confirmed that it remains committed to building fuel cells for its hydrogen-powered vehicles.
• An industry consortium in Japan announced a "commitment" to commercialization in 2015.
• The influential United Kingdom, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, issued a strong statement urging the UK Government to pursue a portfolio of technology options, to avoid potentially "catastrophic" consequences.
Several automakers came to Capitol Hill last week to make the case for fuel cells. Go to http://www.hydrogenassociation.org/policy/briefing_12jun09.asp and www.usfcc.com to see why they believe fuel cells need to be part of the advanced vehicle technology portfolio.