Ford, Daimler and Nissan Buddy Up for Hydrogen

Hydrogen fuel cell cars are an exciting prospect. They have comparable range and refuelling times to combustion-engined cars, yet they're as clean as pure electric cars at point-of-use - the only by-products being water vapour and heat.

But (and it's a big but), so far it's all been smoke and mirrors concerning the development of production fuel cell drivetrains and also the implementation of the infrastructure required to support widespread ownership. The result is that we're not really much closer to mass uptake than we were five years ago. In fact, we're not even close. Today’s announcement, however, regarding a tie-up between Ford, Daimler, and Nissan to accelerate development of the technology required for mass market fuel cell vehicles is a step in the right direction.

A battered and bruised Mercedes F-Cell ends its circumnavigation of the globe in 125 days

The aim is to get hydrogen vehicles on the mass market by 2017, and the hope is that such a significant agreement will rouse both suppliers and governmental organisations into putting the necessary infrastructure in place.

All three manufacturers have highly accomplished hydrogen fuel cell vehicles under their belts already. Ford, in fact, holds the land speed record of 207.297mph with their Fusion 999, whilst Mercedes' B-Class-based F-Cell provides a more realistic example of what we may all be driving in five years time. At the other end of the scale, Nissan unveiled the futuristic TeRRA SUV concept at last year's Paris Motor Show.

In 2007 the Ford Fussion 999 achieved 207mph at Bonneville using hydrogen power

Whether sales of fuel cell vehicles will take off will depend on affordability, and that's what this alliance will seek to address. The idea is that design commonality will accelerate economies of scale and with it lower prices for the buying public.

It's easy to be cynical about these initiatives – with good reason in many instances – but this one could yield tangible results. And with Mercedes' endurance, Ford's speed and Nissan's, um, good looks, we may have something special to look forward to.

Nissan's TeRRA SUV was the centre-piece of their Paris Motor Show stand

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