Fuel cell specialist Ballard Power Systems on Thursday said it had cut 100 jobs and was reducing discretionary spending in an attempt to stretch available cash.

The Associated Press (AP) said the cuts eliminated full-time positions at Ballard‘s plants in Vancouver, Lowell, Massachusetts, and Dearborn, Michigan and left the company with about 600 employees. Ballard said it achieved about half the reduction through normal attrition and the elimination of open positions.

The belt-tightening should reduce annual operating expenses by about 12%, Ballard reportedly said. The company will record a third-quarter charge of $2 million related to the labour cuts.

AP said the company said these expense reductions are in addition to savings its expects to realise from the recently completed sale of its fuel cell support systems business to DaimlerChrysler and Ford. Both automakers own sizable stakes in Ballard.

The news agency said that, during the second quarter ended in June, the company burned through about $28.7 million in cash, up from $22.5 million in the year-ago period. Ballard ended the quarter with $231.3 million in cash and easily convertible assets, down from $240.3 million in December.

According to the report, Ballard’s annual loss has grown from $96.2 million in 2001 to $175.4 million in 2004 as the company continues to pump funds into new technology. Yet, uptake has been slow as many automakers have opted to focus their investment on petrol-electric hybrids in the near term.