Recently, the Department of Energy launched H2USA, a public-private partnership focused on developing the nation’s hydrogen infrastructure so that automobile consumers can take advantage of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) and the various benefits that they bring. The new partnership brings together automakers, government agencies, gas suppliers, and the hydrogen and fuel cell industries to coordinate research and identify cost-effective solutions to deploy infrastructure that can deliver affordable, clean hydrogen fuel in the United States.
“Fuel cell technologies are an important part of an all-of-the-above approach to diversify America’s transportation sector, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and increase our competitiveness on the global market,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. “By bringing together key stakeholders from across the U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen industry, the H2USA partnership will help advance affordable fuel cell electric vehicles that save consumers money and give drivers more options.”
The Mercedes B-Class F-Cell (pictured above) is one of the only two fuel cell electric vehicles currently available for lease in select United States markets. Credit: NAFTC.
Several major automakers have joined the H2USA partnership, including Hyundai Motor America, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan North America Research and Development, and Toyota Motor North America. Each of these companies has announced plans to produce new hydrogen vehicles within the next five years.Hyundai, which became the world’s first automaker to begin mass-commercial production of a hydrogen-powered vehicle in February of this year, plans on continuing production of the ix35 Fuel Cell over the next two years. Americans will know the vehicle by its U.S. brand name, the Tucson. The company plans to manufacture 1,000 units of the vehicle by 2015, targeted predominantly at public sector and private fleets. Hyundai has already signed contracts to lease the ix35 Fuel Cell to municipal fleets in Copenhagen, Denmark and Skane, Sweden. For more details on Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicle, see our eNews story at http://naftcenews.wvu.edu/naftc_enews/2013/3/4/first-production-hyundai-motor-co—-ix35-fuel-cell-vehicle-prepped-for-geneva-motor-show.
Toyota also plans to produce a FCEV available for sale by 2015. The automobile company plans to produce 2,000 units of the FCEV to sell in the United States in 2015, targeting American states that are covered by the California Air Resources Board Mandate. Chris Hostetter, group vice president of strategic planning for Toyota Motor Sales USA, has also recently revealed that the production costs of Toyota FCEVs have been reduced dramaticallyfrom $1 million per vehicle several years ago to about $50,000 today.
Mercedes-Benz and Nissan have also committed to creating fuel cell technology. Back in February of this year the two automobile companiesalong with Ford Motor Companyagreed to develop a common fuel cell system by 2017. For more details on the collaboration, see our eNews story at http://naftcenews.wvu.edu/naftc_enews/2013/3/4/daimler—ford—and-nissan-to-collaborate-on-a-common-fuel-cell-system.
In addition to these major automobile manufacturers, the H2USA partnership also includes the following members: American Gas Association, Association of Global Automakers, California Fuel Cell Partnership, Electric Drive Transportation Association, Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association, ITM Power, Massachusetts Hydrogen Coalition, and Proton OnSite.
“The fact that a number of entities are coming together to work together through this partnership is a very positive sign,” said Morry Markowitz, president and executive director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association.