Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

Car companies announce collaborations on low emission vehicle projects

mercedes-benz-b-class-rear.jpg A total of eight car companies have announced collaborations for 2013 to work together, including on low emission vehicle projects: Daimler, Ford and Nissan; BMW and Toyota; GM and PSA Peugeot Citroen.

Fuel cell technology

Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., have signed a unique three-way agreement for the joint development of a common fuel cell system to speed up the availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment costs.

The collaboration is expected to lead to the launch of the world’s first affordable, mass-market fuel cell electric vehicles as early as 2017.

A unique collaboration across three continents and three companies will help define global specifications and component standards.

Daimler Ford and Nissan say that this sends a clear signal to suppliers, policymakers and the industry to encourage the further development of hydrogen infrastructure worldwide.

Together, Daimler, Ford and Nissan have more than 60 years of cumulative experience developing fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Their FCEVs have logged more than 10 million km in test drives around the world 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 CO 2 emissions while driving.

Powered by electricity generated from hydrogen and oxygen, FCEVs emit only water while driving. FCEVs are considered complementary to today’s battery-electric vehicles and will help expand the range of zero-emission transportation options available to consumers.

How a fuel cell electric vehicle works

Like today’s battery-electric vehicles, FCEVs are more efficient than conventional cars and diversify energy sources beyond petroleum.

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 vapour and heat.

Fuel Cell System, Sports Vehicle, Lightweight Technology And Lithium-Air Battery Collaboration

At the same time as the announcement from Daimler, Ford and Nissan, BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) have signed binding agreements aimed at long-term collaboration between the two companies for the joint development of a fuel cell system, joint development of architecture and components for a sports vehicle, and joint research and development of lightweight technologies. These agreements follow a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2012.

BMW Group and TMC have also signed a binding agreement to commence collaborative research on lithium-air batteries, a post-lithium-battery solution. This agreement marks the second phase of collaborative research into next-generation lithium-ion battery cells that commenced in March 2012.

The main points of the agreements are:

1. Fuel cell system

The companies are convinced that fuel cell technology is one of the solutions necessary to achieve zero emissions. BMW Group and TMC are to share their technologies and to jointly develop a fundamental fuel-cell vehicle system, including not only a fuel cell stack and system, but also a hydrogen tank, motor and battery, aiming for completion in 2020.

The companies are also to collaborate in jointly assessing hydrogen infrastructure development and in creating codes and standards necessary for the popularisation of fuel cell vehicles.

2. Sports vehicle

The companies agreed to set-up a feasibility study to define a joint platform concept for a mid-size sports vehicle that is to be completed by the end of 2013. The two companies aim to combine each other’s technology and knowledge at a high level to maximise customer satisfaction. Both companies are to share the vision to further collaborate in the field of sports vehicle development.

3. Lightweight technology

The companies are to jointly develop lightweight technologies for vehicle bodies using cutting-edge materials such as reinforced composites, with an eye to utilise these technologies in cooperation on the development of a jointly developed sports-vehicle platform as well as other BMW and TMC vehicles.

4. Post-lithium-battery technology

The companies are to begin joint research with a goal to develop a lithium-air battery with energy density greatly exceeding that of current lithium-ion batteries.

GM and PSA Peugeot Citroën provide further details of their Global Strategic Alliance

The collaboration will involve:

• The C-segment multi-purpose vehicle for Opel/Vauxhall, the C-segment crossover utility vehicle for the Peugeot brand and the B-segment multi-purpose vehicles for both carmakers will be developed on PSA Peugeot Citroën platforms.

• GM will lead the development of B-segment multi-purpose vehicles for both Groups.

• The updated B-segment platform for low emission vehicles, designed for the new generation of Opel/Vauxhall and PSA Peugeot Citroën cars in Europe and beyond, will be co-developed by both partners.

GM and PSA Peugeot Citroën also confirmed their intention to develop a joint purchasing organisation in Europe and new global projects to broaden their alliance and seize new opportunities. In this regard, they are exploring opportunities in growth markets including Latin America and Russia, which represent priority regions for both Groups,

In addition, the two Groups are aiming to jointly develop a new generation of small, fuel-efficient, high performance three-cylinder petrol engines, derived from PSA Peugeot Citroën’s EB line of small petrol engines.