Hydrogen Powered Electric Vehicles for the Future

electriCONCEPT
electriCONCEPT

Nissan Motors, Ford Motor Corp, and Daimler, three of the leading names in the automotive industry are in the midst of forming an alliance regarding an alternative fuel source. The three would form a new international brain trust with the aim of developing hydrogen technology as an energy source. The goal is to create “the world’s first affordable, mass market-fuel cell electric vehicles as early as 2017.”

Amongst the terms of the agreement would be equal sharing in costs for the development of the common fuel-cell stack, as well as other systems designed “to speed up the availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment costs.” The announcement was made in Germany through Daimler’s Research and Development Head, saying that the partnership would produce 100,000 vehicles but there was no clear milestone set. For its part Ford, through its spokesperson Alan Hall said, “We’re not talking about volumes in terms of our participation.”

This is very similar to the strategic partnership entered into by BMW and Toyota, whose goal was to develop new technologies. Daimler for its part previously announced it would make a commercially viable fuel-cell car by 2014 or 2015 so the new partnership launch date would be a step back in that promise. Daimler, through its spokesperson Matthias Brock, said the new time frame was ‘revised planning.’ He further added, “In fact, we skip the planned intermediate step with lower volumes and go directly toward large-scale production. All partners together plan to bring a five-digit number of fuel-cell electric vehicles on the market.”

On the other hand though, many experts believe that the three way partnership would be a very positive step and form a stronger alliance in the long run. Nissan Americas Senior VP for Research and Development Carla Bailo, said that "fuel cell technology was the next logical step in the company’s introduction of zero-emission vehicles."

She added, “This progress has helped us convince us that Nissan will be ready to provide an affordable, fuel cell electric vehicle to the mass market as the infrastructure to support comes on stream.”

Ford spokesperson for Europe Monika Wagener also added that the fuel cell vehicles could overcome the range limitations of battery electric vehicles once the hydrogen infrastructure has been properly established.

Thus the electric vehicle revolution continues.

California Air Resources Board Changes Tune

USflagIMAGE200
USflagIMAGE200

The California Air Resources Board or CARB would go and decide this week on recommendations to require a significant increase of the number of zero and near zero emission cars to be on the state roads by 2025. While this is reminiscent of the previous CARB ruling that eventually killed the electric car, the adoption would effectively require the addition 1.4 million advanced power train vehicle by 2025.

The program once passed would require the inclusion of nearly 500,000 electric battery or fuel cell vehicles and nearly a million plug-in hybrids on US roads. Hybrids are termed as transitional zero-emission vehicles or TZEVs by the CARB. These vehicles would be phased in starting 2018 and all automakers, save for the smaller ones, would be required to participate in the program.

According to Dave Clegern, spokesperson for CARB, “This is a big deal. But it’s not really a course shift for us. We’re trying to bring the parties along rather than shoving anything down their throats.”

Many states follow the standards set by California fuel-economy regulations. The mandate from the Board would specify the types of cars to be built and sold in the state that can be adopted anywhere else in the country. The current program stipulates that cleaner cars would comprise for four percent of vehicles sold in the State of California by 2025. The new proposal though would increase the alternative vehicle market’s slice in the consumer car market to as large as fifteen percent with the new regulations.

Clegern adds, “This is a gradual and manageable using numbers that we developed in cooperation with the auto industry.” The CARB would require hybrids, fuel cell and full battery vehicles to be one of every seven new cars sold by 2025. By the middle of the century, the program aims to have at least 87 percent of all cars on state roads to be classified as zero emission vehicles to comply with the rigorous climate targets set for the state.

These car regulatory requirements are just one aspect of a larger program to eliminate smog and other greenhouse gas emissions according to the Board. The program’s objective is to eliminate 52 million tons of climate emissions by 2025 as well as the construction of hydrogen fueling stations throughout the state to provide fuel for the hydrogen vehicles big carmakers such as Daimler, Honda, Toyota and Hyundai would roll out by 2015. This is one aspect of the alternative car revolution that is a major concern for automakers.