In the FC5 the fuel cell has been installed beneath the vehicle's floor so as not to compromise driver and passenger space and the load area. Fuel cells generate electricity by electrochemically combining oxygen from the atmosphere with hydrogen from a fuel source which, in the FC5, would be methanol. With methanol, the fuel cell system cuts emissions of greenhouse gases substantially and there are virtually no particulates, carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxides which are major contributors to urban smog.
The design of the FC5 is reminiscent of both the Ford Ka and Ford Focus with Ford planning to have a fuel cell vehicle in production by 2004. Ford aims to make fuel cell powertrains 50% more efficient than petrol and diesel with methanol comparable in cost to petrol and diesel fuels. Methanol can be derived from natural gas as well as from plant material such as seaweed, wood pulp and organic waste. Ford has joined forces with Ballard Power Systems and DaimlerChrysler to develop full cell technology.