Daimler, Ford and Nissan have entered into a unique three-way alliance that will see the three leading global automakers collaborate on a common hydrogen fuel cell system to power their future zero-emission vehicles.

The joint venture that spans three continents is intended to lead to the launch of the world’s first affordable, mass-market hydrogen-powered vehicles within five years and help define global specifications and component standards.

Daimler (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz), Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Company will invest equally towards the project, reducing costs associated with engineering the technology by maximising design commonality and deriving efficiencies through economies of scale.

In a joint statement, the trio said the alliance sends a clear signal to suppliers, policy makers and the automotive industry to encourage further development of hydrogen refuelling stations and other infrastructure necessary to allow the technology to be mass-marketed.

Daimler, Ford and Nissan have already logged more than 10 million kilometres of testing in fuel cell vehicles independently and bring together more than 60 years of cumulative experience.

Daimler Group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development chief Thomas Weber said the collaboration would speed up the introduction of hydrogen technology across the globe.

“We are convinced that fuel cell vehicles will play a central role for zero-emission mobility in the future,” Weber said.

“Thanks to the high commitment of all three partners we can put fuel cell e-mobility on a broader basis.”

Nissan executive vice president Mitsuhiko Yamashita described fuel cell vehicles as the “obvious next step” to complement today’s battery-powered electric vehicles.

Fuel cell vehicles generate electricity in an on-board fuel cell stack in an electrochemical reaction between hydrogen – stored in a high-pressure tank in the car – and oxygen from the air. Driving range is comparable to that of petrol-powered vehicles, while the only by-products are water vapour and heat.

The announcement follows the confirmation of a similar joint venture between BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation to co-develop a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system for use in their next-generation vehicles.

  • F1orce

    I really fail to see the point of hydrogen fuel cell cars..

    • super_hans

      I agree, as long as battery technology continues to improve why not cut out the middle man and focus on EVs? Unless I’m missing something here it seems like hydrogen fuel cells just add another energy transfer process and allow oil companies to maintain their monopoly

      • $29896495

        Well no you are missing a very big thing, if you are pouring water in your tank to either power the car directly or power your batteries, which will need charging some how, you are killing the reliance on oil. Not only that you are NOT polluting. In fact, a car powered directly by hydrogen will send batteries the way of  beta max or HD DVDs. 

        So picture this, you run out of (what?) yes water, do you need a servo, no. Good bye petrol stations. Also, cars like the Volt or Prius should have some sort of either hydrogen charging engine or bio fuel fed motor, then they would be working the way they are meant to.

        Power stations are more polluting than cars, hydrogen removes another burden on the environment. They can be made to go pretty bloody fast too.

        • super_hans

          The hydrogen required for the fuel cell to operate is trapped in a covalent bond with the oxygen atom that makes a water molecule. To break this bond requires electrolysis, an energy intensive process.
          So to get the H2 from H2O requires large amounts of energy to be fed into a supply of water, not to mention a new network of pressure vessels to distribute the H2. So renewebals are still required to make this whole process ‘green’, plus a whole heap of new infrastructure, the combination of which they call the hydrogen economy.
          For you to be able to pour water into the car and have it run would still require a secondary energy source to perform the electrolysis, as there is no chemical energy in water (hence why I said there is an additional energy transfer, itself another source of transfer losses).

          • $29896495

            Yes of course I was being brief both above and below.  What renewables are you talking about. Yes you would still need a power source, batteries. The point though, it becomes self sustaining which is the intention of the volt. Sure you top up with water, (probably purified) but what else?

          • super_hans

            My original point was the most likely candidate to manage the pressure vessel infrastructure I referred to are oil companies, which you could speculate would still lead to fluctuation and manipulation of hydrogen prices, so why not cut the middle man and stick with batteries powered from the socket?
            As far as renewables, unless that energy used for electrolysis comes from renewables then the process is not truly green, you have just transferred the emissions to the power plant, so there is no net gain over EVs, and probably experience more transfer losses during electrolysis and storage

          • matt

            you dont fill a clarity fcx up with water…….?????? u fill it up with hydrogen…….???? which the fuel cell then turns back into water.

          • $29896495

            Yes Matt that was a stupid thing to write. I blew my argument by getting silly.

          • Poison_Eagle

            Can we perform the electrolysis using renewable resources (solar, geothermal etc) for major cities? I know Norway was working on a geothermal hydrogen infrastructure (HyNor) but I am not sure if that is still in place given there are no commerically available hydrogen/fuel cell cars.

            NB – I think Peugeot-Citroens air compressor idea is a better stop gap to this ideal than hybrids.

          • $29896495

            Of course, if it’s a car, and hydrogen is being used to either power the car and or it’s batteries. You only need to charge the battery for first start. From that point on it becomes an enclosed system. Some buses do run with solar cells on the roof as well as the fuel cell.

        • Zaccy16

          Exactly!!! hydrogen is a fantastic idea as proven by the honda fcx clarity in the us, its a substance that will not run out and works like petrol, so you do’t have to waste your life waiting for your electric car to charge!

    • Frostie

      Hydrogen is the most abundant element. So it’s very cheap.
      Emissions are water vapour, aaaaand… nothing else. So you can drink from the tail pipe.

      • $29896495

        Generally it’s made by splitting water (H2O) Two parts hydrogen one part oxygen. That gives you your hydrogen and away you go.

  • Mark

    Honda already have a Hydrogen car, the FCX, which is currently on lease plans in Los Angeles.
    With all the Honda bashing that goes on here sometimes, Honda were in-fact a few steps ahead of the competition. They have also spent a lot of time looking at the infrastructure to support their vehicles.
    It seems as if they focussed their Engineering capabilities on the next big thing, rather than Hybrid cars which are just a part resolution to the coming oil crisis, whenever that is. Although that being said, there will be some real hi-tech Hybrids coming out from Honda, I’m guessing just to show they’re still part of the Hybrid game.

    • Jake11

      Wrong,Honda are not ahead at all.
       Mercedes Benz have been running Hydrogen F-CELL cars since 2002.There are currently about 60 MB F-Cell vehicles leased out to customers in USA, Japan, Europe & Singapore.In September, 2010, Mercedes announced that a limited run of 500 2010 A-Class based F-Cells will be produced and leased to European customers. Also, DaimlerAG (MB parent) with thirty-six experimental buses powered by fuel cells completed a successful three-year trial, in eleven cities, in January 2007 -source Wiki.

      • Mark

         Jake, Honda released the first FCX in 1999 -source Wiki.

        • Jake11

          Mark, Mercedes Benz released their first fuel cell car (NECAR) in 1994.
             -source Wiki.

  • F1orce

    But battery powered EVs can be powered for free by the sun, wind etc etc etc etc

    And they have no tailpipe.. And no need for any special infrastructure.

    Hydrogen, Air-car etc etc are a waste of time.

    For now all I see are normal ICE for at least the next 25yrs

    And EVs/Hybrids will slowly creep into the market.

    • $29896495

      current tech, doesn’t support that assertion. Battery powered cars also need special charging stations, which aren’t in evidence at the moment. So, what’s your plan? Run out of power and wait for a tow truck, or get to a power point and wait 6 hours for it to charge. At the moment you have very limited range, and power from the dirtiest way you can get it, coal fire.

      Hydrogen gives you the ability to stop top up and go. No waiting. no pollution. So what it spits H20. You might appreciate that going across the Nullarbor one day in the future. Which you could actually contemplate doing. unlike a battery car.

    • Turbodewd

      wow, so you know better than all the execs at 3 of the world’s biggest car makers?  Perhaps youre in the wrong job old chap.

    • matt

      “But battery powered EVs can be powered for free by the sun”….. so just forget that solar powered hydrogen generator thing that honda and shell made… ok… im sorry but i dont see batterys giving us 1000klm/s range in our cars for another 100 years, hydrogen is therefore the way.

      • F1orce

        1000km range?

        Not even ordinary ICE Petol or diesel cars have that kind of range. I don’t see why you expect EVs to have such range..

  • Ben

    Sorry matt and humtm, but you clearly don’t have much of an idea of the current state of battery tech and development. Great battery/car range and extremely fast charge times are very possible now, just not commercial yet.

    Pushing out fast charging infrastructure is much easier than build a hydrogen infrastructure. 

    Even if you started with power from coal, your choice by the way, then each new eco friendly power plant just made all electric cars just that much cleaner immediately. Of course you could just choose for your power to be generated from green sources.

  • Just saying

    There’s nothing wrong with exploring and developing hydrogen fuel cells. This development is for the long term future, and will be in development for many years. It’s a proven fuel for cars. And in the next 20 years when technology will advance even further. Who knows where we’ll be.