This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 13, 2002

Nissan to Develop Fuel-Cell Vehicles with UTC Fuel Cells

UTC Fuel Cells, a unit of United Technologies Corporation, announced in late February that it had signed agreements with Nissan Motor Company Ltd. to develop fuel cells and fuel cell components for vehicles. Renault, Nissan's alliance partner, is also participating in the agreement. Prior to this announcement, Nissan and Renault were among the few major automakers that had not announced plans to develop a fuel cell vehicle. UTC Fuel Cells has already developed a 5-kilowatt fuel cell system for BMW, and is also developing fuel cells for buses. See the UTC Fuel Cells press release.

While Nissan and Renault are moving toward fuel cells, Ballard Power Systems, a major fuel cell company, is getting involved in combustion engines. Ballard announced in February that it had signed an agreement with Ford Power Products, a Ford Motor Company subsidiary, to develop combustion engines for the generator market. The generators would be used in many of the applications that may eventually be served by fuel cells. See the Ballard press release.

Although fuel-cell-powered cars may be many years from commercial production, Toyota Motor Sales just started selling its all-electric RAV4-EV to retail customers in California. The battery-powered sport utility vehicle can travel up to 100 miles without recharging, drawing on a 50-kilowatt motor to reach a top speed of 78 miles per hour. The first buyer? Actor Ed Begley, Jr., a long-time enthusiast of electric and alternative-fueled vehicles. See the Toyota press release.