Fleet News

Fleet role for fuel-cell plan

The German fleet sector is set to play a pivotal role in Ford's plans for the development of a mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Scientists at Ford's European centre for alternative fuels technologies in Aachen, Germany, are confident of achieving this goal by the end of the decade.

From 2010, Ford believes it will be manufacturing at least 50,000 units per year.

Dr Franz-Martin Dubel, Ford of Europe's alternative powertrains marketing manager, said at a media briefing in Aachen: 'We will be running the first vehicles with small fleets in Germany and California in 2004 and look to launch the vehicle in 2010.'

He said one of the greatest challenges now is controlling costs, aware that hydrogen technology will not be acceptable to the consumer unless it is affordable. Our cost target is to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicle the equivalent of a direct injection turbo diesel.'

Ford is likely to target the small fleet sector in closely co-ordinated trials. The carmaker refers to hydrogen as the fuel of the future - but with reservations. It is being championed because it can be produced from renewable energy sources like the sun, wind and water, is non-polluting and is relatively easy to store.

There is, however, no guarantee there will be the refuelling structure in place to support fuel cell vehicles or the political will to introduce legislation to govern hydrogen's use. Consumers' concerns on using the fuel must also be overcome.

Ford introduced the P2000 fuel cell prototype - based on a Taurus saloon - in 1999 and last year unveiled a Focus version.

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