Hydrogen fuel cell technology is gaining interest among the big car makers. Ford is joining forces with Daimler and Renault-Nissan to speed the development of cars that run on hydrogen, with the hopes of bringing a vehicle to market in as little as four years. The new agreement with Daimler, Renault-Nissan, and Ford will enable each company to share development costs. This is vital if future fuel-cell vehicles are to remain competitive with those from BMW and Toyota, both of whom recently signed their own tech-sharing deal.
Mercedes-Benz, Renault-Nissan, and Ford will co-develop a common fuel-cell stack and system that can be used by each company, yet utilized in highly-differentiated vehicles. Engineering will be done jointly by each company, at various locations around the world, with the first fruits of the project expected to be available as soon as 2017. The brands are hoping that high-profile deals such as this will encourage suppliers, governments and the industry as a whole that hydrogen is worth investing in, making it more viable for mass-market production.
Closer to home, the military has been testing hydrogen powered vehicles at Camp Pendleton. While there are hydrogen fueling stations in the LA area supporting the Honda Clarity trial, Camp Pendleton has the closest hydrogen fueling station to San Diego. Under a program funded by the federal Department of Energy, the base has partnered with General Motors, Ford, and Quantum Technologies to test hydrogen-powered vehicles. They are testing both hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and internal combustion engines modified to run on hydrogen and have logged 30,000 miles on hydrogen powered vehicles over the past two years.