Hydrogen cars in Vancouver - click above for high-res image gallery

When you're down and out, that's when you find out who your real friends are. While there are calls for a more grassroots approach to hydrogen infrastructure development, the real pushers are the big automakers and the government. And, now that H2 funding is under attack but also back in the mix, eight major automakers (or partnerships) – Daimler, Ford, GM/Opel, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Renault/Nissan and Toyota – have issued a joint press release saying they all "Stick up for Electric Vehicles with Fuel Cell" by signing a Letter of Understanding that they will work together on the development and market introduction of electric vehicles with fuel cells, especially from 2015 onward.

Note the change in message here. No longer does the word hydrogen have top billing. Instead, these H2 cars are now electric vehicle that just happen to have fuel cells instead of batteries. Of course, this has always been the case, but it's clear that hydrogen is now seen as a hot button term, and the eight automakers involved in this press release are backing away from it. Read the whole thing after the jump.

Photos copyright ©2009 Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: The eight automakers listed]


Automobile Manufacturers Stick up for Electric Vehicles with Fuel Cell

Stuttgart, Sep 09, 2009

*Letter of Understanding on electric vehicles with fuel cell development and market introduction signed

Stuttgart – Today, Daimler AG announced that the 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 - gave a joint statement to the development and market introduction of electric vehicles with fuel cells with a Letter of Understanding (LoU). These companies have built up remarkable know-how in fuel cell technology and thus, the signing marks a major step towards the serial production of such locally emission-free vehicles.

The signing automobile manufacturers strongly anticipate that from 2015 onwards a quite significant number of electric vehicles with fuel cell could be commercialised. This number is aimed at a few hundred thousand units over life cycle on a worldwide basis. As every vehicle manufacturer will implement its own specific production and commercial strategies as well as timelines, commercialisation of electric vehicles with fuel cells may occur earlier than in the above-mentioned expected year.

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.

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

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