Automakers Issue Joint Statement in Support of Commercial Introduction of Fuel Cell Vehicles from 2015 Onward

09 September 2009

Leading vehicle manufacturers in fuel cell technology—Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation/Opel, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors Corporation, the alliance Renault SA and Nissan Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation—issued a joint a Letter of Understanding (LoU) regarding the development and market introduction of fuel cell electric vehicles.

The signing automobile manufacturers strongly anticipate that from 2015 onwards, a “quite significant” number—a “few hundred thousand units” over the initial products’ lifecycles—of fuel cell electric vehicles could be commercialized. These companies have built up extensive expertise in fuel cell technology; the signing marks a major industry step towards the serial production of such locally emission-free vehicles.

As every vehicle manufacturer will implement its own specific production and commercial strategies as well as timelines, commercialization of electric vehicles powered by fuel cells may occur earlier than 2015, the automakers noted.

Road traffic has been steadily increasing in recent years and vehicle ownership is expected to grow. As a result, there will be increased priority on low and zero emission vehicles and an increase in overall CO2 reduction goals. Over the last decade, governments, car manufacturers and the energy sector have given special attention to the introduction of hydrogen as a fuel for road transport as a priority option to reach several goals associated with emission management and CO2 reduction. Current demonstration projects involving fuel retail companies, utility providers and engineering companies have shown that the production, storage, transportation and deployment of efficient equipment for hydrogen as a fuel are technically feasible, according to the automakers.

In order to ensure a successful market introduction of electric vehicles with fuel cells, a hydrogen infrastructure has to be built up with sufficient density. The network is required by 2015 and should be built-up from metropolitan areas via corridors into area-wide coverage. The signing manufacturers strongly support the idea of building-up a hydrogen infrastructure in Europe, with Germany as regional starting point and at the same time developing similar concepts for the market penetration of hydrogen infrastructure in other regions of the world, including the USA, Japan and Korea as further starting points.

Various fuel cell technologies could eventually be used, combined with future high power super-caps, such as ESStor's or others.

Improved super-caps could easily supply the extra burst of power required to accellerate + to recuperate more breaking power + to increase total efficiency + allow the use of much smaller, lower cost, fuel cells.

In the longer terms, supercaps may supply all the power required for the average trips. Batteries, fuels cells and ICE gensets range extenders may no longer be required after 2025/30.

About fuel costs for the Tesla roadster, Model S, Honda FCX Clarity and Toyota Prius.

To go 100 miles
- Prius uses 2 gallons of gas. At 3 USD per gallon the total cost is 6 USD.
- Tesla roadster uses 22kWh. At 10 cents per kWh total cost is 2.2 USD.
- Model S uses 26 kWh. At 10 cents per kWh total cost is 2.6 USD.
- Honda FCX Clarity uses (4.1/240)*100 = 1.7 kg hydrogen. Made from electrolysis of water you need minimum 50 kWh (more likely 60 kWh) to produce 1 kg of compressed hydrogen. If we completely ignore the very substantial capital cost involved with building a hydrogen gas stations and also ignore the very substantial costs of maintaining the hydrogen producing equipment at the hydrogen gas station the total cost of driving a Honda FCX 100 miles is (1.7*50*0.1) = 8.5 USD.

An objection to the above could be that the price of electricity is too high. It should be 5 cents because hydrogen can be produced at night at off peak rates. True, then it will cost about 4.25 USD to run 100 miles in the FCX Clarity. However, add the price of capital cost and operational cost of the hydrogen station and we are over 6 USD more than gasoline. Moreover, at 5 cents it only cost 1.3 USD to drive 100 miles in Tesla’s Model S.

Another objection is that hydrogen will just be made from reformed natural gas at 3 USD per kg of hydrogen. The problem is that this price of 3 USD is the cost of doing it at a very large scale facility at an oil refinery. It is not a relevant price for hydrogen sold at a refueling station for cars. Such a refueling station needs highly compressed hydrogen that is highly purified and it either needs to be produced in a small scale facility on-site which is expensive or produced centrally with subsequent huge distribution costs as hydrogen is voluminous and dangerous.

As a result hydrogen from a gas station that uses on-site electrolysis is probably cheaper than hydrogen from natural gas. The website link below is to a Danish company that sells hydrogen fueling stations. To quote from their webpage “H2 Logic provides onsite hydrogen production solutions for industrial gas and transport fuel applications. Alkaline and PEM electrolysers from H2 Logic enables onsite production of hydrogen as an alternative to delivered hydrogen. Onsite production results in a significant lower hydrogen cost and improves gas purity compared to delivered hydrogen.”

http://www.h2logic.com/com/hydrogenproduction.asp

I mean a fuel cell company like H2 logic admits that hydrogen from electrolysis is cheaper than hydrogen from natural gas in a gas station setting and we have seen that electrolysis hydrogen is already too expensive to compete with gasoline or EVs in terms of fuel prices. And then there are all the other unsolved problems with fuel cells, such as, lack of platinum for mass production, the low durability of PEM fuel cells, and high cost and low durability of hydrogen pressure tanks.

The lack of vision is staggering.

So we're going to get a hydrogen network installed by 2015 are we? Who's going to pay for that? By 2012 we will have 160 km range BEV's for sale for $25,000, and by 2015 we'll probably be up to 200 km range and down to$20,000. And you'll be able to rent cheap little range extender genset trailers to go longer distances. Do the automakers (who are using our money) seriously expect to be able to compete with this using hydrogen? When will this hydrogen dream finally whimper its last breath and die?

They will stop at nothing, even the prospect of bankruptcy, to avoid bringing to market current-technology BEV's which have the distasteful side effect of transferring both energy production and consumption into the hands of the car consumer, and out of the hands of the oil industry. Actually, they aren't even worried about bankruptcy because they know taxpayers will bail them out regardless.

Having seem the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car?" I don't find it hard to believe the FCV idea was a put-up job or smoke screen.

Clearly the automakers see that we need a variety of technologies to end petroleum. The message here is that Europe is moving ahead with the long-term solution while the US works on the stop-gap measure of plug-in vehicles. It's not batteries versus fuel cells, it's battery and fuel cell versus combustion!

No more public funds for hydrogen fuel cell EV's at this time. Millions, even $100,000 dollars per fuel cell vehicle remains impractical. In fact, the 1993-2004.. Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles billion(s) (80 mpg 5-seat production sedans by the 'Big 3' in 2004) should be returned to the US taxpayers - with interest. EV's like the 1997-2002 RAV4 EV got hundreds of miles per gallon, in fact traveled without ANY petro at all and were just pulled off the market anyway. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Honda had forecast 2018 for significant production and almost bearable costs. But Honda more recently hinted at 2015. Toyota said about the same time. AFAIK the other manufacturers vaguely mumbled about the same. And that is exactly what this statement of intent says. It is a safe agreement and means little. In effect, everyone will do their own thing. They have three more years to develop before deciding, in 2013, to commit to mass production if vehicles are to be delivered in 2015. It is certain that by 2013 the FC and H situation will look different. Whether it will look Great, Good, Worse or Dismal is the question. Ok I will explain for the less smartypants in the crowd. Because of the way car making works at this point it will cost them the same no matter if they build 2-300000 fuel cell cars in that 2015 push or if they scrub the whole thing. In fact going forward may be CHEAPER. So the cars are a done deal already. The fueling stations... Not a big deal as most of the locations are very near existing h2 generating companies. Just a few tube trucks for now maybe some solar panels and or wind mill farms. Nothing big oil cant handle from change in the sofa... and yes as always politicos will stand in to "help" to try and look like they are doing stuff and being useful. Same old same old. Maybe 100-200 stations at a few mil each overall.. more early on less later.... Pocket change from these groups. And the fuel will be .. about the same as gasoline. Less maybe if gas spikes up by then. And the cars? Better faster longer lasting spiffy wonderment... And the cars buyers? leasers? They will just be happy. No the interesting phase will be when they build the third wave of fuel cell cars in 2018-2020.. 2.5 million cars or so ive heard. What will those cars look like? How will the h2 station situation look like at that point? Again and to be blunt as ever. The h2 will be around 3.5 bucks a kg at the pump because thats what they have decided it will be. The only way that will go up is if everything went up and that would increase gasoline and yes electric rates too... And ... The entire reason we can be sure of h2 fuel cell cars is the combo of customer money and taxes. In simple terms the most profitable part of the car industry is high energy vehicles.. Too high energy for batteries and also too high energy for sub 90 g/km co2 levels. That also happens to be where the taxes are... So both the tax man and the car company are very much into h2 fuel cell tech... Thier jobs depend on it. ROFL Vaporware plain and simple. It is very likely that a single cylinder range extending diesel engine generator can be made that has both higher direct efficiency and much higher indirect efficiency than a fuel cell at much less cost. NOAX has built at least one working prototype of such an engine. There can be a whole complex arrangement of filters and catalysts to clean up the exhaust and it can have even an electric-turbo-supercharger-generator for power boost. Long range electric automobiles are bad engineering, since most trips are relatively short. But a HUMMER is also bad engineering for a commuter vehicle. It is too bad that Pescara did not get around to building a free piston automobile. Automobile companies know that electric automobiles will destroy the use of standard ICE automobiles if efficiency and low pollution are ever required as it is for refrigerators. A sodium-sulphur fuel cell vehicle can be built in a month or less using NGK technology initially invented by Ford. It is just as much a fuel cell rather than a flow-battery as is the use of electrolytic hydrogen. More sodium and sulphur could be pumped into vehicle tanks at service stations. The sodium sulphides could be then reprocessed on the spot. This would hardly ever be necessary because a sodium sulphur flow battery can have great range. ..HG.. Using a methanol fuel cell might throw a completely different light on the matter as far as fuel costs are concerned. @Henry Gibson: "Long range electric automobiles are bad engineering, since most trips are relatively short." You obviously don't live in the US South West. Wintermane200 You hit it on the head, except the small change is not going to come from the oil and gas guys or the auto companies. They are maneuvering for Tax money to finance it. As long as they agree, they can all beg for money to stay competitive and "energy independent" while assuring survival of GM and Chrysler by way of "grants." Automakers are pushing one type of technology. Why this particular one? Do they say, how much government shall "invest" into this insanity? Is their business to decide what society needs? Any hydrogen source can be used (with carbon dioxide) to synthesize methane via the Sabatier reaction. Then you have a fuel that's 3X denser (energetically) than hydrogen. Storage problem SOLVED. The extant NG infrastructure can also be used to move methane around. Infrastructure problem SOLVED. Methane can be burned efficiently in internal combustion engines, including diesel engines. Engine problem SOLVED. PHEV/hybrid technology can also be used to improve overall mpg. Fuel cells have a huge problem with efficiency at high current draw. This can't easily be solved without more expensive materials (i.e., COST) or a larger overall cell (i.e., COST). Whatever the source of electricity (renewable, nuclear, coal etc), you would need 4 times as many power stations to recharge/refuel a hydrogen vehicle fleet compared to an EV fleet. What country is going to choose that option? Clett, That's true, and I'm not a big supported of the hydrogen economy. But if a synthetic fuel is used to provide added range (which is not used very often) then the overall cost of the vehicles will be lower because fewer batteries per vehicle would be needed. More batteries is a very expensive way to add range. Better to use an expensive fuel rarely rather than to carry around more expensive batteries all of the time. wintermane2000, The Honda FCX seems the most successful fuel cell car on the road - all ten of them built in the past year. "Because of the way car making works at this point it will cost them the same no matter if they build 2-300000 fuel cell cars in that 2015 push or if they scrub the whole thing. In fact going forward may be CHEAPER." No one believes building 300,000 fuel cell cars would be cheaper than building none. Tax breaks cal carb credits.. adverts.. blah blah blah blus the already built the factories and designed all the parts... In short its already a done deal. The present state of the most successful HFC car, the Honda FCX and infrastructure as of Oct 2008. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-the-hydrogen-car-running-on-empty 18 fuel stations in Ca, 3 in LA est$200 000 fuel cell
$5 to$10 /kilogram for hydrogen
4 kilogram tank storage
79 mpg, or 33.5 km/L (of gasoline equivalent) city
68 mpg (29 km/l) highway

Given the derth of stations, I'd say forget about it. Pure Ev with battery probably in the short - mid term.

Nothing is a done deal with hydrogen fuel cell EV's - not at \$100,000's per unit, no H2 infrastructure etc.

Aym is right. So is Sec. of Energy Chu.

The point of the series production run is to develope the tools needed to make the car MUCH cheaper and make making the car much faster.... Thus DUH DUH DUH DUH OH GOD HOW DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its gona be spendy at the freaking start! Thats why they are doing it so its not spendy 3 years from now and so they have the tools and knowhow and tech needed to make thousands of these things in the next batch.

Oh and thats a year old. Concidering they NOW say yes solidly for a near 2015 next batch id say they must be doing good at this point.

For over twenty years, commercialized H2 fuel cell EV's have been just 'a few more years of research grants away'.

Six years is furtherest away yet.

I find this whole debate over fuel cells and electric cars highly interesting and I wish I knew more about it. I do agree with others that have said diversity in research is important. There are many failures in science and technology before a successful path is chosen.

My concerns with these vehicles goes beyond just how they run but to what are the environmental impacts of creating and destroying these cars. Anyone seen information on this?

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