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

October 06, 2004

Ford Begins Production of Fuel-Cell-Powered Fleet

A man works on the frame of a vehicle in the background of this photo, while in the foreground, wires snake across a metal box mounted in the car's exposed floor.

A worker installs door components on the frame of the Ford Focus FCV. The fuel cell and battery pack are built into the floor of the vehicle.
Credit: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company celebrated the production of a fuel-cell-powered Focus sedan on September 28th, the first vehicle in a fleet to be deployed in five cities. The Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) features a fuel cell stack from Ballard Power Systems, a nickel metal hydride battery pack, and regenerative braking that uses a brake-by-wire electro-hydraulic system. Ford is building an evaluation fleet of Focus FCVs for demonstration programs in Orlando, Florida; Sacramento, California; and Taylor, Michigan, as part of DOE's Controlled Hydrogen Fleet and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project. Ford will also demonstrate the vehicle in fleets in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Berlin, Germany. Ford is working with BP to build a network of hydrogen fueling stations in these cities to support the vehicles. While some BP stations will use near-term hydrogen production technologies, like reforming natural gas, others will generate hydrogen from renewable energy resources. See the Ford press release.

While Ford is rolling out its Focus FCVs, a growing number of automakers are investigating fuel cell vehicles. That fact was clearly demonstrated when the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) held its 2004 Road Rally in mid-September. The event featured fuel cell vehicles from DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen. According the CaFCP, "Never before have so many manufacturers had their fuel cell vehicles on the road together." See the CaFCP press release.

Companies are also inserting fuel cells into a wide variety of vehicles. For example, BOC, an industrial gas company, has teamed with Cellex Power Products Inc. to build a fuel-cell-powered forklift. Honda has built a scooter that uses the Honda fuel cell stack. Hydrogenics Corporation is supplying fuel cell drives for a number of projects, including groundskeeping equipment for The Toro Company, an aircraft tow tractor for the U.S. Air Force, and a van for the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. But topping them all is the German company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW), which has built a submarine with a hydrogen fuel cell drive for the German Navy. According to HDW, the submarine is capable of remaining submerged "for weeks at a time." See the press releases from BOC, Honda, Hydrogenics, and HDW.