May 9, 2003

Ford to test fuel cell car fleet in Vancouver

Vancouver, B.C. – Ford Motor Company, Natural Resources Canada and Fuel Cells Canada have announced plans to place a fleet of hydrogen-powered Ford Focus fuel cell vehicles on the streets of Vancouver early next year.

The vehicles are part of a three-year collaborative development program designed to give select evaluation partners an opportunity to test fuel cell vehicles in real world applications.

“Testing fuel cell vehicles in everyday conditions and applications is a critical step in moving the industry toward commercialization,” said Mike Schwarz, director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies, the group at Ford Motor Company responsible for research and development of fuel cell products. “Projects like this will provide the data we need to engineer improved performance, reliability and durability of fuel cell vehicles and prepare the market for wide spread commercialization.”

The vehicles in this program will be a hybrid-electric fuel cell version of the Ford Focus, utilizing a Canadian-made Ballard fuel cell engine and a Dynetek compressed hydrogen storage tank. The Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) employs a regenerative braking system to capture energy lost through braking and improve overall efficiency and range and an advanced nickel metal-hydride battery for electrical energy storage.

“The technology is exciting, but it is still a long road to mass market consumption,” said Alain Batty, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. “We know demonstration programs such as this accelerate the process, and so we commend NRCan and the government of Canada for their support and future-oriented vision,” Batty added.

“Hydrogen fuel cells are key to effectively addressing climate change,” said Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. “Today’s announcement is an important step in moving towards the wide-spread use of this technology and demonstrates that Canada is a leader in this area.”

A total of five vehicles will be involved in the Vancouver program. Ford and Fuel Cells Canada will select which fleets will utilize and evaluate the Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle – but it likely is to be fleets which operate locally and remain close to refueling and service facilities, such as delivery services.

“Given the leading capabilities of the Canadian fuel cell and hydrogen industry and the important role the government of Canada has played in working with Ballard Power Systems and Ford to introduce and develop fuel cell engines as an advanced powertrain option for high-efficiency vehicles – it’s fitting that one of the key fleets be placed in an important Canadian market like Vancouver,” said Dr. Ron Britton, President, Fuel Cells Canada.

The vehicles will go into service in Vancouver in early 2004 for up to three years. Natural Resources Canada, through the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance initiative, will work with Fuel Cells Canada to provide a network of hydrogen fueling stations in Vancouver.

Fuel Cells Canada will collaborate with the National Research Council Canada to provide secure space within its Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation to serve as home base and garage facility for the vehicles. Fuel Cells Canada will equip the repair facility and staff it. Ford will provide a 1-800 technical assistance hotline available to on-site technicians for service and repair concerns.

The Ford Focus FCV produces zero emissions (if the hydrogen is created using renewable resources), and uses a Ballard fuel cell engine that converts chemical energy into electrical energy using hydrogen and oxygen. The electrical energy then powers the vehicle’s electric-drive motor, producing only water and heat as by-products. Fuel-cell technology is projected to provide up to two times the fuel economy of gasoline and diesel engines.

Besides Vancouver, Ford is also working on projects that would place Focus FCV fleets into service in other markets. In addition to fleet placements, Ford participates on on-going activities to educate people on fuel cell vehicles and demonstrate the technology. The Ford fuel cell team recently completed the California Fuel Cell Partnership Road Rally, a 640 kilometre (400-mile) trek from Sacramento to Los Angeles. The team is currently on a three-week tour across Canada, with major stops in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver, in collaboration with Natural Resources Canada, Ballard Power Systems Inc., Dynetek Industries Ltd., Stuart Energy Systems and Fuel Cells Canada.

The Vancouver Fuel Cell Vehicle Project is a collaborative vehicle deployment and evaluation activity involving a consortium made up of Ford, Fuel Cells Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, as well as Environment Canada, and Transport Canada. Funding for this project will come from NRCan, Ford Motor Company, the National Research Council, the Government of B.C and other participants. Fuel Cells Canada will manage the project on behalf of the partners.

Fuel Cells Canada is a non-profit national industry association, headquartered in the National Research Council’s Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation in Vancouver.

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