Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are still in the early stages of development, but have the potential to reduce US dependence on foreign oil significantly and lower emissions that cause climate change. FCVs look like ordinary vehicles, but contain technologically advanced components such as a fuel cell stack that con- verts hydrogen gas stored onboard with oxygen from the air into electricity to run the electric motor that propels the vehicle. A storage tank stores hydrogen gas compressed at extremely high pressure to increase driv- ing range and a power control unit governs the flow of electricity. FCVs emit only heat and water (steam) from their tailpipes. Manufacturers are currently working to solve issues involving safe onboard hydrogen storage, high vehicle cost, fuel cell durability and reliability, how to deliver hydrogen to consumers, and public accep- tance of the dependability and safety of the vehicles. 81 Rules and regulations on vehicle mileage and emis- sions standards are established by the federal govern- ment. Recently the Obama administration and the auto manufacturers were in negotiations over new standards that could reduce global warming emissions by millions of tons per year and decrease oil imports by billions of barrels during the life of the program. Proposed regula- tions would require new US cars and trucks to reach an average of as much as 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 with increases in fuel efficiency of nearly five percent per year for cars from 2017 to 2025. 82 This would place US fuel efficiency at the same level as Europe, China, and Japan. The automakers requested that the government phase in the standard gradually and wanted assurance that the government would help build the charging sta- tions needed for electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles. The manufacturers agreed that the standard could be achieved, but they expressed concern that US consumers would not accept the smaller, lighter, and, in some cases, more expensive vehicles. Gloria Bergquist, vice president for public affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (the leading industry lobby in Washington), said, “We can build these vehicles. The question is, will consumers buy them?” The manufacturers also warned that it would cost billions of dollars for development. 83 After talks with the automakers, the Obama administration eased the requirements to 54.5 mpg, with a 3.5 percent per year increase in fuel efficiency for light trucks through 2021, but kept the requirement for passenger cars at five percent. By July 28, 2011, Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Toyota had indicated they would support the proposal, but Mazda, Volkswagen AG, and Daimler AG indicated they would probably not, claiming that the guidelines gave unfair benefits to full-size pickup trucks, a staple in the product lineup of the Detroit Three, and placed the major increases on passenger cars. The formal pro- posal is scheduled to be disclosed by September 30, 2011, and the final ruling should be made by the end of July 2012.
- Spring '12
- The Land, Ford Motor Company