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June 11, 2003

COMMENT: Ford: fuel cell pioneer

Ford plans to introduce fuel cell technology into fleet vehicles in Canada by next year. Ford will be trialling fuel cell technology in Canada over the next three years, and hopes to make the cars commercially available by 2020. Fuel cell cars are likely to have a disproportionate impact in the fleet market, where players will have to adapt their fuel management and maintenance strategies to suit the new technologies.

By bcusack

Ford plans to introduce fuel cell technology into fleet vehicles in Canada by next year.

Ford will be trialling fuel cell technology in Canada over the next three years, and hopes to make the cars commercially available by 2020. Fuel cell cars are likely to have a disproportionate impact in the fleet market, where players will have to adapt their fuel management and maintenance strategies to suit the new technologies.

Ford hopes to bring fuel-cell technology to Canadian fleet vehicles. The first trials of the technology, which will be manufactured by Ballard Power Systems, will take place in Vancouver. Ballard Power Systems is a Canadian company that is 19.1% owned by Ford.

Five hydrogen-powered Focus cars will be used in the $3.5 million trial, which will last three years. The investigation intends to discover how fleet operators and customers react to the environmentally friendly technology.

Providing such technology to the mass fleet market will enable operators to avoid future concerns over ever stricter environmental legislation concerning fuel economy and vehicular emissions. Ford hopes to prove to fleet customers that vehicles using this fuel-cell technology can be just as cost-effective as conventional petrol vehicles, while at the same time avoiding the environmental consequences.

Ford’s ambition for this technology is to create the same kind of paradigm altering market impact it had with the model T, providing a ubiquitous technology for ordinary people. The company aims to make the first commercial vehicles available to consumers by 2020. By 2050, it hopes to make 40% of all its vehicles with fuel cells.

An ever-increasing portion of the automotive markets of Europe and North America are comprised of the fleet market. As such, the fuel cell technology is bound to have a disproportionate impact on fleet operators and customers.

With such a profound change in the nature of the vehicle, existing strategies for fuel management and maintenance operations will need to be radically altered and all players will need to re-orientate their business models to incorporate the specific needs and benefits of the technology.

SOURCE: DATAMONITOR COMMENTWIRE (c) 2003 Datamonitor. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without prior written consent. Datamonitor shall not be liable for errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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