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Ford, Nissan, Daimler Enter the Fuel Cell Fray

Ford, Nissan and Daimler have signed an agreement to develop affordable fuel cell electric vehicles that the automakers hope to have on the road by 2017, Detroit Free Press reports.

The newspaper says the three companies are trying to keep up with the likes of Toyota, which has said it will start selling fuel cell vehicles in 2015, first in California; and Honda, which plans to launch a next-generation fuel cell vehicle the same year. That car should be less costly than Honda’s first-generation fuel cell auto, the FCX Clarity, which it has leased since 2008.

Hyundai and Kia have also said they will offer a fuel cell vehicle in 2015, according to Detroit Free Press.

Additionally, BMW and Toyota have signed agreements aimed at long-term collaboration for the joint development of a fuel cell system, along with architecture and components for a sports vehicle, lightweight technologies and a post-lithium” lithium-air battery. Those companies say they are convinced that fuel cell technology is one of the solutions necessary to achieve zero emissions.

Their system will use a fuel cell stack, a hydrogen tank, motor and battery. The companies are aiming for the project to be completed in 2020.

While fuel cell vehicles remain limited today, with no passenger cars on sale and primarily demonstration-driven roll-outs of buses, fuel cell vehicles should grow to a $1.8 billion market by 2030 at a CAGR of 22 percent, according to a Lux Research report published earlier this month.

In other Ford news, the company has published market research that it says will shape its business strategy and new products. It identifies 13 Trends for 2013 including:

  • No. 2: Consumer Republic. Consumers are increasingly using consumption habits to influence policy and hold companies accountable for their actions. Timberland, for example, publishes quarterly sustainability reports, and has a supplier sustainability team dedicated to ensuring workers have a sustainable living environment.
  • No. 6: Help Me Help Myself. Ford says consumers are using feedback loops, to change behavior with products such as Nike Fuelband, which gives real-time exercise feedback, and Mint.com, with its real-time updates about finances. Likewise, Ford’s Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid gives instant feedback through gauges, images and real-time data, helping consumers improve their driving habits.
  • No. 10: The Minimal Maximist: Driven by environmental as well as social and economic concerns, consumers are turning away from mindless consumption and embracing new forms of commerce that promote resourcefulness.
  • No. 13: Post-Green. Ford says eco-consciousness is no longer a niche value; it’s a way of life. The report cites filtered water stations designed for reusable bottles at O’Hare and Chicago Midway airports; and New York’s Recyclebank, which gives consumers discounts and special deals from some 4,000 companies for everyday “green” actions like recycling.
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