Ford, Daimler, Renault-Nissan Alliance Sign Huge Hydrogen Pact

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
ford daimler renault nissan alliance sign huge hydrogen pact

There are people, and some of them comment on TTAC, who are convinced that a hydrogen-powered car is an insanity that will never work, but other people who work at the world’s largest carmakers beg to differ. Today, Ford, Daimler, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance signed a tripartite pact for the joint development of a fuel cell system that promises to be implemented faster, and at lower cost, both to automakers and customers.

The plan is to leverage the considerable economies of scale of the three signatories into “the world’s first affordable, mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017,” as a joint communique says.

All three have significant experience in FCEVs. Their FCEVs have logged more than 10 million km in test drives around the world. There is one problem that faces all presumptive makers of FCEVs: How to make them affordable. If they are affordable, they will hopefully be bought. If there are FCEVs on the road, hydrogen fuel stations will hopefully follow.

This ramp-up is too steep for a single automaker, even the biggest one in the world. After Toyota and BMW, Ford, Daimler, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance formed an even bigger pact. The three companies will invest equally into the project, and amount was not disclosed.

Discounting doubts of TTAC commenters, Thomas Weber, a member of Daimler’s management board, said: “We are convinced that fuel cell vehicles will play a central role for zero-emission mobility in the future.”

Expect more alliances (who’s left, Volkswagen and GM?) and an industry-wide push for FCEVs in the 2015-2020 timeframe.

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11 of 32 comments
  • L'avventura L'avventura on Jan 28, 2013

    This deal isn't as 'huge' as it seems, and there are some serious questions about this partnership. First to consider, neither Ford nor Daimler make their own fuel-cell stack. Ford's fuel-cell is made by Ballard Systems, and Daimler is made by AFCC. AFCC is not coincidently owned by Ford, Daimler, and Ballard Systems. As for Renault-Nissan; Renault isn't part of this deal (though they are open to join). Nissan is one of the few companies that actually designs and builds their own in-house fuel cell stack and technology. Add to this they have a existing mass production EV to base their fuel-cell car on. Nissan doesn't want to give-up their technology, which they have been working on for decades, so easily. According to Bloomberg it seems that Nissan won't be joining the AFCC, and Nissan will work under contract from Daimler. Basically what we have here is a Daimler-Ford Fuel Cell Project adding Nissan as a contractor.

  • E46M3_333 E46M3_333 on Jan 28, 2013

    Unless we start running out of oil, you will never beat the cost of pumping a hydrocarbon out of the ground, refining it, and burning it inside a relative cheap chunk of metal known as the internal combustion engine. It requires imposing artificial "costs" on CO2 emissions to make alternative technologies appear cost effective. Setting high costs on CO2 emissions in turn requires clinging to global warming orthodoxy with a religious fervor. I for one can't wait for the whole global warming edifice to collapse--hopefully it will happen soon before all cars are turned into $hit boxes that only an environmental wacko could love. The real inconvenient truth is that the earth has experienced no statistically significant warming in the last 12 years--even Michael Mann, the godfather of global warming, has admitted as such.

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    • Bimmer Bimmer on Jan 28, 2013

      Earth is moving in climate cycles relative to the Sun that last very long time. How will you explain tar sands and dino bones found in Alberta? It's definitely does not have a climate that is favourable to dinosaurs. And after dinosaurs we had the Ice Age. Now Earth is starting to heat up again and everyone is blaming greenhouse gases that we produce. But it's my personal opinion.

  • E46M3_333 E46M3_333 on Jan 28, 2013

    "Spoken with the atavistic fervor of someone defending his gravy train. Goodbye, credibility." What makes you think you know the first thing about me? I know its hard to believe that someone who reads an automotive blog might just be a car enthusiast, but that's all I am. My livelihood in no way depends on the future of the internal combustion engine and I don't work in the auto industry. My motivation, if I have one, is to preserve what's good about the automobile and the freedom it provides--to not see it regulated out of existence by government bureaucrats and environmentalists.

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    • CJinSD CJinSD on Jan 28, 2013

      darkwing's comment only makes sense as a reply to thefronge.

  • Kyree Kyree on Jan 29, 2013

    If ever there are hydrogen-powered vehicles, I can assure you that my state will be among the last to have an infrastructure for them. People here would much rather continue to drive around in their big body-on-frame SUVs...

    • Darkwing Darkwing on Jan 29, 2013

      On the contrary -- with their large amounts of free space, and easily accessible and relatively simple drivetrains, big body-on-frame SUVs are among the easiest vehicles to refit. I have little interest in knee-jerk elitism, but do at least try to be logically consistent.