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Automotive Intelligence News

News of  October 24, 2000


 


Toyota to Join California Fuel Cell Partnership   
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Opportunity Seen to Facilitate Industry-wide Discussion
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Montreal - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION announced it will participate in the California Fuel Cell Partnership*1, a program aimed at promoting awareness of fuel cell vehicles by demonstrating the viability of both fuel cells and alternative fuel infrastructure technology. 

"Toyota is always searching for forums to discuss issues surrounding fuel cell technology. We decided to participate in the California Fuel Cell Partnership because it offers such an opportunity," said Toyota Managing Director Hiroyuki Watanabe at the 17th International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS-17) in Montreal. 

Recognizing fuel cell vehicles as a promising form of environmentally friendly means of transportation, Toyota has been promoting technological innovations in this field for many years. In September 1996, it unveiled a fuel cell vehicle equipped with a hydrogen-absorbing alloy for storage of pure hydrogen; it demonstrated the vehicle in a test run at the EVS-13 in Osaka that year and conducted test drives in it in 1997. Also in 1997, Toyota developed the world's first fuel cell vehicle with an on-board methanol reformer. In 1999, Toyota and General Motors of the United States reached an agreement to cooperate in research and development of vehicles with advanced environmental technology, with special focus on fuel cell, hybrid and electric vehicles. 

To promote the widespread use of fuel cell vehicles, numerous issues must be resolved and major breakthroughs are still required in fuel cell technology itself. These issues include creating standards for fuel selection and safety, standardization and development of infrastructure. "To form a consensus on these issues, it has become very important to promote global and open discussion not only among automobile manufacturers under the spirit of 'competition and cooperation', but also among industries and administrative organs," Watanabe said. 

Based on this thinking, Toyota, together with leading car and fuel companies, such as GM and Shell, has decided to join the Sustainable Mobility Project*2, a working group of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development*3, a private-sector initiative set up in response to the Rio Earth Summit. Through its participation, Toyota aims to discuss on a global level future power sources for automobiles, fuel selection and other issues regarding mobility in the 21st century. 

Together with such global undertakings, national-level initiatives that reflect regional needs and concerns will become ever more important. Toyota's understanding of this is reflected in its joining, along with major overseas automakers, the Policy Study Group for Fuel Cell Commercialization organized by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry's Agency of Natural Resources and Energy. Toyota's decision to become a member of the California Fuel Cell Partnership in the U.S. was made along the same line. 

Toyota seeks to encourage synergy among these national level as well as global initiatives and, by doing so, promote greener cars and eventually create a rich and environment-friendly 21st century through "sustainable development". 

*1 The California Fuel Cell Partnership was established in April 1999 as a demonstration program to promote the practical and economic potentials of fuel cell vehicles, as well as to discuss the formation of a suitable infrastructure for supplying fuels appropriate for such vehicles. Plans feature opening a currently under-construction fuel cell vehicle service center/showroom in Sacramento, California, on Nov. 1, 2000. Key members include the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the California Air Resources Board, automakers such as Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai, petroleum and infrastructure-related companies such Shell, BP and Texaco, and fuel cell maker Ballard. It will place several dozen fuel cell passenger cars and fuel cell buses, first of the "hydrogen-storage type" and then of the "on-board fuel-reformer type", on the road between 2000 and 2003. 

*2 The other core member companies of the Sustainable Mobility Project are: BP, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Michelin, Norsk Hydro and Volkswagen. GM, Shell and Toyota are co-chairs. 

*3 The Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development is a coalition of some 140 international companies (more than 20 of which are Japanese, including Toyota) chiefly focused on relaying proposals for sustainable development from industry to society and to discuss industrial guidelines for such development. Established in 1995, it is currently chaired by Charles O. Holliday, Chairman and CEO of DuPont. Its vice chairmen include Toyota Honorary Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda. 

(October 16, 2000)

 

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