DaimlerChrysler & Fuel Cells

Friday, November 12, 1999

DaimlerChrysler Communications
CIMS 485-06-48
1000 Chrysler Drive
Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 (USA)

Innovation Symposium 1999: The Fuel Cell as an Economic

Stuttgart/Auburn Hills --

Fuel cells safeguard jobs and competitiveness
Alternative fuels are necessary
Fleet trials to prepare the market

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 systems produced.

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.