Fuel Cell Testing Facility Opens in Japan

The first Japanese testing facility for fuel cell vehicles was opened in Japan for the research and development of fuel cell cars. DaimlerChrysler is co-initiator of the project, in which five automotive manufacturers and companies from the energy supply sector have joined forces to test fuel cell vehicles along with the necessary fuel infrastructure under everyday operating conditions.

Tokyo, Japan – March 24, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] This “Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project” (JHFC), which is subsidized by the Japanese government, sets out to bring this project towards market maturity by fostering close cooperation between the spheres of industry and science and the authorities. DaimlerChrysler will be involved in this test program with its Mercedes-Benz “F-Cell” A-Class, which was first presented in October 2002. The necessary road operation approval for this car has already been granted by the Japanese Ministry for Land Infrastructure and Transport. The JHFC facilities provide excellent conditions for the tests, since they include both workshops and an information center. Five hydrogen filling stations have already been established in the greater Tokyo area. “The Japanese demonstration project represents a significant milestone along the road towards market maturity for fuel cell vehicles and towards the use of hydrogen as an energy medium for the future,” said Andreas Truckenbrodt, who is responsible for alternative powertrains at DaimlerChrysler. “We welcome this initiative of the Japanese government, since we are convinced that this future-oriented technology can only be effectively promoted through close cooperation between the automotive manufacturers and the energy supply sector.” On October 7, 2002 DaimlerChrysler presented the world’s first series produced fuel cell car: the Mercedes-Benz “F-Cell” A-Class. This fleet of sixty vehicles will be driven and tested by customers in everyday conditions as from 2003 within the scope of international cooperations. Ever since the presentation of the first NECAR (New Electric Car) in 1994, DaimlerChrysler has been a major player in promoting the development of fuel cell technology and has now presented twenty concept vehicles in all. Nevertheless, before the “F-Cell” can find universal application, a considerable amount of development work still has to be carried out which cannot lie in the hand of one automotive producer alone. To pave the way for the market introduction of the fuel cell within the foreseeable future, the matter of fuel supply and infrastructure in particular must first be clarified within the scope of a worldwide initiative together with the field of politics, the petroleum industry and the energy economy. The development engineers are still faced with countless challenges, relating especially to further weight and cost reductions and to increased reliability and extended service life. In order to affect a breakthrough in this key technology, cooperation between the manufacturers is indispensable.

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