Automaker Trio Hopes to Bring Hydrogen Back From the Brink

This could finally be the real deal.

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Three titans of the automotive industry – Renault-Nissan, Ford and Daimler (which is parent to 22 car brands, including Mercedes-Benz) – are collaborating on the development of hydrogen fuel-cell technology. Their goal is to have hydrogen-electric cars in people’s driveways in the next five years.

We’ve heard this before, but this time it could be different. Really. Seriously. We swear.

While hydrogen fuel-cell technology has been promised, and in some cases even deployed in various forms during the last century, it has never taken off. Despite the abundance of hydrogen in the world, combined with the technology’s potential to provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels, too many hurdles – including cost, reliability and the lack of a distribution and fueling infrastructure – have stifled its development and widespread adoption.

The automotive ménage à trois aims to eliminate those issues by pooling their engineering talent, scale and power over suppliers to create a common fuel cell stack. Each automaker will throw the same amount of funding into the project to create a vehicle the consortium claims will be “affordable” and designed for the “mass market.” The cars could be available as early as 2017. Each vehicle will use the same core components, but will be built on platforms unique to each automaker, allowing for different body styles, interior configurations and branding.

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