Formation of the California Fuel Cell Partnership

April 20, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

Ballard Power Systems (Vancouver, BC), DaimlerChrysler (Germany) and Ford Motor Co. (Detroit), in association with oil companies Shell Oil US, Texaco and ARCO, as well as the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission, have announced the formation of the California Fuel Cell Partnership. Under the collaboration, vehicles using Ballard fuel cells will be demonstrated and tested in real-life operating conditions.The California Fuel Cell Partnership plans to place about 50 fuel cell vehicles on the road between 2000 and 2003. Ford and DaimlerChrysler will each initially provide five fuel cell powered passenger cars by 2001. The partnership will also work with California transit agencies to test approximately 25 buses. The vehicles will use Ballard fuel cells and will be powered by engines and electric drives developed by dbb fuel cell engines inc. and Ecostar Electric Drive Systems.Ford's fuel cell cars will be based on the company's P2000 research program, which unveiled its first driveable fuel cell car in January 1999 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. A direct-hydrogen fueled, zero-emission vehicle, the P2000 is a family sedan that offers the same interior space as the current Ford Taurus while weighing less than 3200 pounds. The vehicle's fuel cell system delivers 100 horsepower and goes from 0 to 60 in 12 seconds. According to news reports, DaimlerChrysler is expected to use the latest version of its NECAR compact fuel cell vehicle, which was unveiled last month. Oil companies Shell, Texaco and ARCO are expected to provide liquid hydrogen for the test vehicles, as well as committing resources to develop a hydrogen or methanol fueling infrastructure."The California Fuel Cell Partnership shows the progress of the fuel cell industry to date, which Ballard, through its leadership position in PEM fuel cells, has helped to bring about," stated Ballard President and CEO Firoz Rasul. "This field trial demonstration of cars is an important step on the path to successful introduction of fuel cell vehicles by the auto industry and the fuels they will require. It is fitting that demonstrations begin in California which has led the world in the search for clean transportation solutions.