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Toyota and Daimler might be planning fuel cell research partnership

Toyota and Daimler might be planning fuel cell research partnership

Another day, another report of a future industry partnership. After hearing about Volkswagen’s official purchase of Italdesign Giugiaro, reports are now coming in about a new partnership between Toyota and Daimler.

According to Reuters, the two companies are planning to kick start a joint venture which would research and develop new fuel cell technologies for future electric vehicles. Both carmakers have been documenting the new technology for quite some time, so this new partnership might make a lot of sense.

Daimler has also partnered recently with the Renault Nissan alliance, but that only covers small car development and platform sharing. The company is also part, alongside Toyota and other carmakers of the so-called Hydrogen Alliance, a group that supports the development of fuel cell vehicles.

The two companies refused to declare anything about a partnership, so perhaps an official announcement isn’t too far away.

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Honda researching EV battery technology in China, says a breakthrough is needed


Honda has been covering all its bases in terms of future technologies, with projects involving hybrids, electric vehicles and even fuel-cell cars.

While many carmakers are just focusing on electric vehicles, Honda’s CEO, Takanobu Ito, has revealed that a breakthrough in battery technology is required in order to really make EVs profitable from a business standpoint.

In order to acheive such a thing, his company is currently looking into opening research centers in China, given the fact that the country has vast resources for such endeavors. Also, the government subsidies for research into electric vehicle technology are quite attractive, according to the Japanese executive.

Concluding, Ito revealed that another 10 to 20 years are required in order for electric vehicles to become reliable in everyday use and attractive from a price standpoint for the average consumer. Until then, Honda will continue to push hybrids like CR-Z (pictured above) and research other technologies.

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Toyota planning $50,000 hydrogen-powered sedan by 2015

Toyota planning $50,000 hydrogen-powered sedan by 2015

Toyota, thanks to its hybrid and electric endeavors into the realm of car propulsion, hasn’t really gone with the hydrogen fuel cell trend, calling such vehicles expensive and unnecessary.

Still, this hasn’t stopped the company’s research and development branch from working on such a technology. The fruits are already being seen, a fact which prompted Toyota to say that it will release a hydrogen fuel cell sedan by 2015.

How did the company go from calling such tech expensive to promising a production-ready model? Thanks to the big price drops recorded by fuel cells. This, according to a company representative, will allow the Japanese company to break even quickly at a price of $50,000 per car.

Unlike other companies, Toyota wants to really profit from this market segment, and even though it could price the sedan lower, in order to contend with other future models like the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf, it will keep it around the $50k point, in order to get back its investment.

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BMW testing out new hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain

BMW testing out new hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain

BMW has revealed that it is now testing out a new type of powertrain that uses a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity, store in supercapacitors and then use it to power an electric motor.

The new technology is already being tested on a BMW 1 Series prototype. On that test vehicle, it is combined with a regular internal combustion engine, that powers the front wheels. While some of you may jump to the conclusion that this tech is going to appear on the future front-wheel drive BMW and Mini models, an executive within the company confirmed that the setup was forced by technical issues.

It seems that the supercapacitors and the rear-mounted electric motor occupied too much space, and didn’t allow the 1 Series to retain its regular rear-wheel drive setup. As such, the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) aka the fuel cell, generates its power, which is then stored in the capacitors, and transferred to the electric motor, that power the back wheels. The internal combustion engine is just used to power the front wheels and keep the prototype moving in between hydrogen refueling stops.

According to some voices, the technology hasn’t been approved just yet, so we won’t get to see it for quite some time. For more details on how hydrogen fuel cell vehicles work, check out our special on them.

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“Fuel cell vehicles are the future” Honda executive says


At the 2010 edition of the Geneva Motor Show, Honda president Takanobu Ito once again emphasized what his company believes will be the future of the carmaking industry: fuel cell vehicles.

“We will continue to offer mobility solutions with low associated co2 emissions,” said Ito. “We believe that fuel cell cars are the ultimate solution. We have recently produced a solar powered hydrogen refining unit without a compressor that’s 25 per cent more efficient than previous units. Ideal for home use, so you won’t need to buy hydrogen elsewhere.”

But while FCVs will be the main goal, until the technology behind them becomes more profitable and better developed, other methods of producing low CO2 emitting vehicles will need to be used. As such, hybrids like the Insight or the recently-unveiled CR-Z hatchback will still be promoted by the Japanese company.

We already discussed the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in one of our RPMGO Answers feature. While we support the technology, it has a lot of growing to do before it will become fully viable and get us off our fossil fuel addiction.

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