Ford Motor Company and BP plc announced an initiative aimed at moving the United States closer to a hydrogen economy. Ford intends to place up to 30 hydrogen-powered vehicles, and BP plans to build a network of fueling stations to support them, in metropolitan Sacramento, Orlando, and Detroit. The auto company and the energy provider made the announcement on April 27 at joint news conferences in each of the cities where the vehicles and fueling stations are proposed to be based and operated. The proposed fleets and fueling stations are in response to the U.S. Department of Energy's solicitation, titled "Controlled Hydrogen Fleet and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project." The Ford and BP joint proposal calls for Ford to provide up to 30 hydrogen-powered Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). Assembly of the vehicles will begin in the fourth quarter of 2004, depending on the timing of successful contract negotiations with the U.S. DOE and various state and local entities. The Ford Focus FCV is a hybridized fuel cell vehicle, which combines the range and performance of hybrid technology with the benefits of a fuel cell. The Focus FCV uses an 85kW fuel cell stack supplied by Ballard Power Systems. The FCV is hybridized by the addition of a nickel metal-hydride battery pack and a brake-by-wire electro-hydraulic regenerative braking system. BP plans to install a network of stations demonstrating fueling technologies to support the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Some BP hydrogen refueling stations will evaluate technologies that have near-term commercial feasibility, such as reformation of natural gas, while others will explore more long-term technology options and assess the potential to produce renewable-based hydrogen that achieve U.S. DOE hydrogen fuel cost targets. Under the proposal, Ford intends to station up to 10 Focus FCV vehicles in each of the three metro areas of Orlando, Sacramento, and Detroit.

Ford plans to place up to 10 Focus FCVs across three organizations in Sacramento. Service and maintenance of the vehicles will be provided at the existing California Fuel Cell Partnership facility. BP plans to support the FCVs by installing refueling sites in the Sacramento area.

Ford plans to deploy up to 10 Focus FCVs in the Orlando area across three fleets. BP is examining several sites in the north Orlando area to locate a fueling site central to the three proposed fleet users.

Ford plans to place up to 10 Focus FCVs with the City of Taylor and with the University of Michigan. BP is considering several sites for refueling infrastructure, including the Wayne County Metropolitan Airport and the EPA vehicle test laboratory in Ann Arbor. The vehicles in Southeast Michigan will be serviced at Ford's existing fuel cell development facility (its Sustainable Mobility Transportation Lab).

Originally posted on Fleet Financials