Automakers Ready Fuel Cell Vehicles

Volume commercial production of fuel cell powered vehicles is the goal of an alliance of Mercedes-Benz AG, Ford Motor Co., and Ballard Power Systems of Canada. The agreement combines the expertise of Ballard in proton exchange membrane fuel cells, the alternate drive systems research of Daimler-Benz, and Ford's electric vehicle powertrain technology. The hope is to have functional cars and trucks developed by 2005. Last September Daimler-Benz displayed its NECAR 3, a concept car that generated the hydrogen for its fuel cell from liquid fuel. Earlier Mercedes examples simply carried the hydrogen fuel in pressure tanks. The alliance will use proton exchange membrane fuel cells because of their operating temperatures (between 20 and 100 degrees centigrade) and their high power density.

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