The first fuel cell vehicles in the marketplace initially will use hydrogen as their fuel source, according to a decision from the California Fuel Cell Partnership.SACRAMENTO, California, US, 2001-11-23 [SolarAccess.com] The group recently held a meeting to discuss its commissioned study, ‘Bringing Fuel Cell Vehicles to Market: Scenarios and Challenges with Fuel Alternatives.’ The study addresses how to bring fuel cell vehicles to showrooms as quickly as possible, taking into account the challenges and potential solutions in using several fuel options. Fuel cell systems require hydrogen to generate electricity to power the car. The question is whether the fuel pumped into a car’s fuel tank will be pure hydrogen or another fuel that contains hydrogen. Members of the Partnership agreed that it is too early to make a decision on a long-term fuel for vehicles, but stressed that automakers have to start with something for the near term. “We need to take action now in order to gain practical experience and early feedback from customers,” says CaFCP chairman Ferdinand Panik. “Given this situation, it is very important that most of the automotive members have announced that, beginning in 2003-2004, they intend to provide fuel cell vehicles to customers, with a strong orientation toward hydrogen-powered vehicles in fleet applications first.” “At the same time, most of these companies are working on fuel processor-based cars, involving methanol, clean gasoline or ethanol,” he adds. “This work will prove the feasibility and attractiveness of these approaches as an alternative to hydrogen, should hydrogen not fulfill expectations or be restricted to fleet vehicles. Other fuels help broaden the business basis for fuel cell applications.” The study was commissioned last year and was prepared by a team of independent consultants. It focused on issues concerning fuel infrastructure, economics and environmental benefits and examined four different fuel pathways: hydrogen, methanol, gasoline and ethanol.