GERMANY: Ballard hives off automotive fuel cell business

By just-auto.com editorial team | 8 November 2007

Fuel cell supplier Ballard Power Systems is transferring its automotive division to a new company, Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation, which will be majority owned by Daimler AG (50.1%). Ford and Ballard will remain partners in the project.

In an announcement today Daimler said that Ballard is transferring ownership of its automotive division to the new company to be able to concentrate on the marketing of stationary fuel cell application.

The company will be headed by Andreas Truckenbrodt, currently executive director hybrid development of Daimler. He was previously an employee of Ballard.

Ford holds a 30% share in Ballard and Ballard will be the main financial partner in new company. In return, Daimler will retransfer its total stake in Ballard. Ballard will provide its employees of the research and development divisions as well as all the intellectual property and expertise relating to automotive fuel cell applications to the new company.

Despite concerns about the availability of hydrogen and its ability to be carbon neutral, Daimler expects fuel cell vehicles to reach maturity for large-scale production between 2012 and 2015. It said it would start producing a small series of B-class F-cell cars as early as 2010.

Herbert Kohler, chief environmental officer of the Daimler Group said: "Investment in the fuel cell is investment in our future. In the coming years, we will work intensively on making this technology even more reliable and on cutting costs. For all the companies involved, the foundation of Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation is an important step into the future because in the long term, the fuel cell is the most viable proposition for sustainable and zero-emission mobility combined with a sparing use of resources."