The goal of the collaboration is to jointly develop a common fuel cell electric vehicle system while reducing investment costs associated with the engineering of the technology. Each company will invest equally towards the project. The strategy to maximize design commonality, leverage volume and derive efficiencies through economies of scale will help to launch the world's first affordable, mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017, three years earlier than the competing BMW / Toyota group.
All three participants in the project already dispose of significant experience in the development of FCEVs with a total of more than 10 million km in test drives in customers’ hands and as part of demonstration projects in diverse conditions. The partners plan to develop a common fuel cell stack and fuel cell system that can be used by each company in the launch of highly differentiated, separately branded FCEVs, which produce no CO2 emissions while driving.
The collaboration is intended to send a signal to suppliers, policymakers and the industry to encourage further development of hydrogen refueling stations and other infrastructure necessary to allow the vehicles to be mass-marketed, Daimler said in a press release. FCEVs are considered complementary to battery-electric vehicles and will help expand the range of zero-emission transportation options available to consumers.
Engineering work on both the fuel cell stack and the fuel cell system will be executed jointly by the three companies at several locations around the world. The partners are also studying the joint development of other FCEV components to generate further synergies.
The electricity for an FCEV is produced on board the vehicle in the fuel cell stack where it is generated following an electro-chemical reaction between hydrogen - stored in a purpose-designed, high-pressure tank in the car - and oxygen from the air. The only by-products are water vapor and heat.