Daimler, Toyota, BMW to lead $10-billion hydrogen investment

  • Image Credit: Mercedes-AMG
Daimler, BMW, and Toyota are leading a group of 13 companies pledging to invest more than $10 billion during the next five years to spur enough infrastructure-building and technology advancements to get more of the general public to buy hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. The automakers, which also include Honda and Hyundai, as well as companies such as Shell, AirLiquide, Linde Group, and Total SA, are part of what they're calling the Hydrogen Council. The group made its announcement in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

The Hydrogen Council will pledge to accelerate its rate of hydrogen-related investments, which currently stand at about $1.5 billion annually. The coalition says its work represents a continuation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which many of the companies agreed to address the issue of climate change. The group says that hydrogen, which emits water vapor when used in fuel-cell vehicles, "can play an important role in the transition to a clean, low-carbon, energy system." The Hydrogen Council also vowed to push global governments to accelerate public investment in hydrogen-related infrastructure.

Relative to other drivetrain technologies, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are in their relative infancy in terms of adoption because of the high cost of both building fuel cell vehicles and setting up a hydrogen-refueling infrastructure. Toyota is the only automaker that sells a production fuel-cell vehicle in the US. The Japanese company, which introduced its Mirai domestically in late 2015, sold 1,034 of them in the US last year. Daimler subsidiary, Mercedes-Benz, used Tuesday's announcement to remind people that it would start selling its GLC plug-in hydrogen fuel-cell crossover this year.

There are only 33 publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations in the US, including 30 in California, and one each in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, according to the US Department of Energy. By comparison, there are more than 15,000 electric-vehicle charging stations with almost 40,000 outlets in the US.

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