BOSTON, MA (Siemens PLM Analyst Event), Sep 8, 2011 - For those who think Big Auto and Big Oil are hopelessly intertwined, here is a jolt. Daimler and Ford have formed a company whose sole purpose is to create a commercial automotive powerplant based on fuel cells. Fuel cells don’t use fossil fuels. They combine hydrogen and oxygen to release energy twice as efficiently as internal combustion engines.
Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC), a Siemens PLM customer and user of Teamcenter, presented this technology at the press event. AFCC is owned by Daimler (50.1%) and Ford (30%). The company is pretty far along the road to commercialization of their product and has already achieved a significant milestone. A trio of B-series Mercedes (you don’t see these in the US) have circumnavigated the world – with nary a mechanical failure.
The radical engines are due to be commercially available in 2015, having satisfied most criteria (power, range, reliability) except one big one – cost.
Though details of cost were not provided, so I am free to imagine that it would cost at least an order of magnitude above conventional engines, as the Prius driving/tree hugging/compost/organic eating/community gardening demographic would be certainly be within reach even at a 2X price differential.
Having demonstrated its fuel cells ability to function, job one at AFCC is now to bring down the cost. Achieving that, what’s not to like? Hydrogen fuel cells byproducts are water and heat. There are no carbon emissions. It would reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources.
Am I missing something? Or are fuel cells a serious game changer?