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Pike Research ranks Mercedes-Benz, Honda tops in fuel cell vehicles

According to the latest Pike Pulse report, three automakers stand out among the competition in the light-duty fuel cell vehicle segment. Pike Research says the automotive trio of Daimler (maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles), Honda and Toyota lead the pack at this formative stage of fuel cell vehicle development.

Pike senior analyst Lisa Jerram says Daimler's decision to lay out a clear path to producing a commercially viable fuel cell vehicle landed the automaker in the top spot. This may be true, but has Daimler made ambitious announcements on fuel cell technology in the past and wasn't able to stick to all of its goals.

Honda is the runner-up in Pike's Pulse report, based mainly on the execution of its fuel cell vehicle, the FCX Clarity. Still, Pike warns that the Japanese automaker must be careful in regards to the slow rollout of its fuel cell vehicle and says that if production of the FCX Clarity doesn't ramp up soon, Honda could lose its second-place spot. Pike's Pulse report puts Toyota in third place, the Hyundai-Kia duo in fourth and General Motors in fifth.

The "Pike Pulse Report: Light-Duty Fuel Cell Vehicles" evaluated ten automakers that have shown at least a hint interest in fuel cell vehicles. The automakers were rated on 12 criteria for strategy and execution.
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Daimler and Honda Score Highest in New Pike Research Assessment of Light-Duty Fuel Cell Vehicle Manufacturers

August 10, 2011

The light duty fuel cell vehicle (FCV) market is in a ramp up to commercialization. Automakers have diverged in their commitment to this market in recent years. Several of the major global automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have aggressive programs to develop a commercial FCV as part of their suite of sustainable vehicles, while others have pulled back. At the same time, a few new players have entered the arena, with the potential to disrupt the market. According to a new Pike Pulse report published by Pike Research, the two light-duty FCV manufacturers who are best positioned in this formative stage of the market are Daimler and Honda.

"Automakers will continue to refine their products between now and the 2014/2015 deadline for commercial launch," says senior analyst Lisa Jerram. "In order to meet this target, the OEMs must continue to test and refine their fuel cell systems as well as the vehicle integration and optimization. They will also be focused on driving down vehicle costs."

Jerram adds that Daimler attained the highest overall score in the Pike Pulse report, since it has laid out a clear path to producing a commercially viable FCV. Other contributing factors include its strong relationships with infrastructure and government partners and its recent announcement to partner with Linde on infrastructure development. However, Daimler has made ambitious announcements on fuel cell technology readiness in the past, and these did not come to fruition. The company recently moved up its target date to 2014 from 2015. If its proclaimed dates begin to slip, Daimler's position could quickly change.

Honda is the runner-up in Pike Research's analysis, based on the high-quality execution of its FCV, the Clarity, its efforts to lay the groundwork for a commercial launch, and its continued public commitment to FCV commercialization. Yet, the company must be careful in regards to the slow rollout of its Clarity fleet; if the rollout does not ramp up in 2011, Honda's outlook could wane.

The "Pike Pulse Report: Light-Duty Fuel Cell Vehicles" evaluates 10 auto OEMs working on fuel cell vehicles and rates them on 12 criteria for strategy and execution, including go-to-market strategy, product portfolio, partnerships, innovation, reach, market share, pricing, and staying power. Using Pike Research's proprietary Pike Pulse methodology, the OEMs are profiled, rated, and ranked with the goal of providing an objective assessment of these companies' relative strengths and weaknesses in the market. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm's website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. The company's research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Grid, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors.

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