Earlier this year in Europe, 13 companies joined forces to create the Hydrogen Council, a global initiative to discuss and promote the use of hydrogen as a renewable source of energy.
In the United States, GM and Honda have partnered up to build a production plant in Michigan that will roll out next-generation propulsion systems for fuel-cell vehicles.
While hydrogen fuel-cell cars are now being sold globally, in very small numbers, the lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure is a reality the industry still has to face.
Now a group of 11 Japanese firms will tackle that challenge head-on.
A consortium that includes automotive giants Honda, Nissan, and Toyota has signed a memorandum of understanding on a collaboration to help expand the fuel-cell market in Japan more rapidly than it has to date.
The agreement stems from Japan’s “Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.”
Hydrogen station in Amagasaki City, Japan
That policy aims to have 160 additional hydrogen fueling stations installed across Japan by 2020, and 40,000 fuel-cell vehicles on the roads that same year.
Other firms involved include JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, Tokyo Gas, Development Bank of Japan, Idemitsu Kosan, Toho Gas, Air Liquide Japan, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, and Iwatani Corporation.
Each firm will have a specific role to play within the alliance, with a common goal of mainstreaming hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
For instance, companies specialized in infrastructure will build and operate new fueling stations.
Toyota Mirai showroom and hydrogen fueling station, Tokyo, Japan, May 2015
Automakers will do what they do best: promote and sell the vehicles as well as help to support the network of hydrogen stations.
Sometime this year, the joint venture should result in the creation of a company that will oversee the installation and the operation of the new stations.
Other companies will be expected to join the effort as well as the emerging market of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles starts to flourish under the plan.
As for the Hydrogen Council, its members—including a number of automakers—say they will collectively invest more than $1 billion per year to help accelerate the development of fuel-cell technology and fueling infrastructure in Europe.
— Sabrina Giacomini