Friday, November 12, 1999
1000 Chrysler Drive
Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 (USA)
Stuttgart/Auburn Hills --
According to DaimlerChrysler's Fuel Cell Project Director,
Dr. Ferdinand Panik, the issue of an infrastructure for fuel cell
vehicles must be addressed quickly and a decision reached as soon
as possible if a competitive advantage is to be secured in the
U.S. and Germany
Panik also said he believes that DaimlerChrysler's pioneering
work has proved the technical feasibility of the fuel-cell drive.
More than 60 companies around the world are currently working
on fuel cell drives, seven of which are among the world's 10 biggest
companies in terms of revenues. In addition, several automobile
manufacturers have already announced their intention to launch
fuel cell-driven vehicles over the next five years. The four largest
Japanese automobile companies alone will have invested more than
US$546 million (about 500 million Euros) in the development of
fuel cells by the end of this year.
"Work on the fuel cell is no longer motivated exclusively by technological and environmental considerations, but has become a genuine competitive factor," Panik said at a press symposium in Stuttgart. "We view the fuel cell as an economic opportunity that will help safeguard high-tech jobs and business success in the future."
Panik also pointed out that DaimlerChrysler pledges its wholehearted
cooperation in order to achieve these goals. To this end, the
company is not only willing to enter into cooperative partnerships;
it is also prepared to bring with it the knowledge already acquired
from its efforts to date.
According to Panik, the important thing is to get governments
to help ease the way for the mobile fuel cell as it approaches
large-scale production. Regardless of whether it's the U.S., Japan
or Europe, the development of fuel cell technology will not only
open up new fields of business, but will also require new training
and production methods. To succeed in the face of strong international
competition, the transformation process will have to begin as
early as possible. At the same time, limited petroleum resources
and increasing demand for them will make alternative fuels crucial
by 2020 at the latest.
Panik said that the fuel cell is a "test case for the
much-touted commitment of both governments and industry to entrepreneurial
risk-taking and innovation. This commitment represents a key factor
in establishing new technologies that will help protect the environment,
improve the economy and boost employment."
The first projects dealing with infrastructure are about to
begin in California and Japan.
Which fuel is to be used for the mass market is another question
requiring immediate and urgent study in Germany and Europe, since
the choice of fuel will have a direct effect on the type of drive
Finally, Panik said that factors such as emission levels, technological maturity of the processes and distribution channels should play a key role in a final decision on a fuel for the future that will be both good for the environment and the economy.