Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been on the horizon for a long time now with very little in end results. Honda has sold a very small number of FCX Clarity fuel cell cars since putting them on the market, and the same is true of the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell luxury car. It was somewhat surprising to see a major alliance declared between Daimler, Ford, and Nissan to develop a common fuel cell system that could lead to an affordable fuel cell car by 2017. Fuel cell engines produce electricity through a catalytic membrane where an electric gets stripped from hydrogen to power the car. The waste product is only water that comes out of the tailpipe. Some analysts think it has the greatest potential for green transportation – yet the cost for production and installing hydrogen fueling stations is huge. The challenges are there, yet these three global automakers may be prepared to invest.
While it’s not mentioned in the article on the alliance between Daimler, Ford, and Nissan, there’s another major OEM deal that was announced days before this one. Toyota and BMW think fuel cell vehicles also have a joint venture to design components for these vehicles. They’ll also be working on battery technology for electric vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles obviously have a mountain to climb, but the cost and size of fuel-cell stacks are coming down, and the driving ranges are growing longer.