DaimlerChrysler Commits $1 Billion to Fuel Cell Vehicles
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DaimlerChrysler Commits $1 Billion to Fuel Cell Vehicles
Environment News Service (ENS)
June 20, 2000
By Cat Lazaroff
HANNOVER, Germany (ENS) - DaimlerChrysler aims to be the first automaker to
market vehicles powered by fuel cells, promising fuel cell buses by 2002 and
passenger cars by 2004. At World Engineers Day Monday at Expo 2000 in
Hannover, chairman of the board Jürgen Schrempp said the company will invest
$1 billion over the next four years to develop affordable fuel cell powered
In just two years, DaimlerChrysler plans to deliver municipal buses equipped
with fuel cell drives. EvoBus GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of
DaimlerChrysler, will supply the Mercedes-Benz Citaro low floor urban buses
with fuel cells at a price of 1.25 million euros (US$1.2 million) each.
The Citaro's fuel cell unit delivers more than 250 kilowatts of power. It
was developed and manufactured by the DaimlerChrysler subsidiary Xcellsis.
Gas pressure bottles containing compressed hydrogen for the fuel cells are
mounted on the roof of the bus.
The environmentally friendly bus can travel up to 300 kilometers (186 miles)
at a top speed of 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour) and carry
around 70 passengers.
The company plans to build some 20 to 30 urban buses with fuel cell drives
during the next three years, and offer them for sale to transport operating
companies in Europe and around the world.
Also in 2002, DaimlerChrysler's assembly plant for Mercedes-Benz automobiles
in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will start drawing power from a stationary fuel cell
manufactured by the company's subsidiary MTU Friedrichshafen.
The four companies involved in the venture are Southern Company, its
subsidiary Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA), FuelCell Energy
(FCE) and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. The power plant will use
FCE¹s Direct FuelCell(TM) stack in a unique design developed by MTU
Friedrichshafen, a partner of FCE.
The first fuel cell passenger cars will be ready to roll by 2004, said
Schrempp, chairman of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management.
Schrempp views the fuel cell as the most promising of all alternative drive
"The fuel cell boasts efficiency levels greater than those offered by the
combustion engine," said Schrempp. "It can be used in both mobile and
stationary applications, can run on regenerative fuels and has the potential
to become the drive of the future."
Schrempp quoted neutral observers, who have predicted a growing demand for
fossil fuels in the coming years, leading to continued increases in the
price of oil. This raises the danger that energy could become a luxury item
for the prosperous, deepening the division between rich and poor in the
world, Schrempp said.
However, energy offers the chance of providing the solution to many other
problems, he noted. As examples, Schrempp cited desalination of seawater for
drinking water and irrigation, and protection of the environment and the
Schrempp called on the roughly 3,300 participants at World Engineers Day in
Hannover and on engineers around the globe to organize themselves using the
Internet. In this way, he said, they would be able to work on securing
future supplies of energy without regard to national boundaries.
DaimlerChrysler recently received an award of distinction from the
International Association for Hydrogen Energy for its efforts in developing
alternative energy powered systems.
But DaimlerChrysler is by no means the only company working toward fuel cell
powered vehicles. A growing number of private companies and government
agencies are joining organizations to develop and promote the
commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicles.
In May, General Motors announced it is joining forces with Giner Inc, a
specialized research firm that develops fuel cell technology and other
electrochemical systems, to establish Giner Electrochemical Systems, L.L.C.
The venture will combine the strength of the world's leading automaker with
the focused electrochemistry work of a renowned R&D firm, according to GM
"Hydrogen fuel cells are the powertrains of the future," says GM vice
chairman Harry Pearce. "General Motors' fuel cell stack is the industry
benchmark. Giner Electrochemical Systems will provide important technologies
to speed the commercial introduction of these fuel cells."
Hyundai Motor Company said this month it will develop an innovative
demonstration program for a fuel cell powered sport utility vehicle. The
power plant will come from International Fuel Cells, a subsidiary of United
Technologies. Enova Systems will supply the drive train and power management
systems that convert energy from the fuel cell into propulsion power for the
The California Fuel Cell Partnership is a voluntary group that wants to
advance automotive fuel cell technology. Partners include Air Products &
Chemicals of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Linde AG of Germany, and Praxair of
Danbury, Connecticut, which offer specific expertise in fuel cell
In January, Canadian based Ballard Power Systems unveiled its next
generation of fuel cells, the Mark 900, for use in cars and homes. The Mark
900 is incorporated in the Vancouver company¹s Mark 900 Series Fuel Cell
Power Module, which uses low cost materials and is designed for
manufacturing in high volumes for use cars and trucks. Company officials say
the new line is significantly more powerful and compact than any proton
exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell publicly shown to date.
Fuel cells have actually been around for 150 years. The fuel cell was
invented in England by Sir William Grove, who called it his "gaseous
battery" to distinguish it from another invention of his, the electric
The fuel cell is an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen with
oxygen to produce electricity. The principal byproducts are water and heat.
The basic process is highly efficient and pollution free. There are no
carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions that are linked with global
warming and climate change.
However, while hydrogen is the most abundant material in the universe, it is
not readily accessible. It must be extracted by expensive and sophisticated
chemical industry processes. Nearly all of the hydrogen produced today is
made from fossil fuels, which produces toxic byproducts.
In February, a Canadian company claimed to have developed a process to
produce hydrogen fuel from water using solar energy. The Solar Hydrogen
Energy Corporation (SHEC)laboratory says it has scientifically validated a
key technology for the production of hydrogen fuel, using heat energy of the
"The potential for a hydrogen energy economy is enormous," says SHEC
official Ray Fehr. "It can power cars and provide heat and electricity to
"The fuel cell is a remarkable technology that has the potential to replace
the internal combustion engine as a clean and economic source of power,"
says David Hocking of the David Suzuki Foundation, a Vancouver research and
lobby organization. "But if we make hydrogen from the wrong fuel source,
such as gasoline, we will have squandered a crucial opportunity to address
global warming and air pollution."
The market for clean fuel cell technology is almost unlimited. In January,
the international marketing firm Frost & Sullivan said the market for fuel
cells will grow by almost 50 percent a year for the next five years.
"Eco-friendly stationary fuel cells can potentially usher in a new era in
energy production in the coming years," said Frost & Sullivan.
For more information about fuel cells, including definitions of terms
associated with the technology, visit the U.S. Fuel Cell Council at:
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