Technology, Knowledge and the Firm

Technology, Knowledge and the Firm

Implications for Strategy and Industrial Change

Edited by Ken Green, Marcela Miozzo and Paul Dewick

There is a long-standing tradition of research that highlights the importance of differences in the organizational and technological capabilities of firms and their effect on economic performance. This book expands on this theme by exploring the role of knowledge and innovation in firm strategy and industrial change. Underlying the volume is the belief that firms have distinctive methods of operation and that these processes have a strong element of continuity.

Chapter 6: Technological Shifts and Industry Reaction: Shifts in Fuel Preference for the Fuel Cell Vehicle in the Automotive Industry

Robert van den Hoed and Philip J. Vergragt

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, innovation policy, knowledge management, organisational innovation


Robert van den Hoed and Philip J. Vergragt 1. INTRODUCTION In the past decades the automotive industry has allocated considerable amounts of resources to the development of cleaner propulsion technologies as alternatives to the internal combustion engine (ICE), such as the battery electric vehicle (BEV), the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and the fuel cell vehicle (FCV). Of these alternatives the FCV is generally seen as the most likely candidate due to its energy efficiency, low emissions and use of renewable fuel. Although the hype surrounding FCVs suggests a dominant design for FCVs exists, this is in fact not the case. Van den Hoed and Vergragt (2001) conclude that three technical differences between future FCVs can be discerned. First, whether or not the FCV is hybrid (where a FC-system is combined with a battery) or fully FC-based. Second, whether the FC is used to propel the vehicle, or is used as an alternative to the current accumulator/battery; in this configuration the ICE remains, but the ‘more problematic’ battery is replaced. Third, the preferred fuel for the FCV is still disputed within the industry. With respect to fuel, ideally a FCV uses pure hydrogen to generate electricity. Given the problems related to hydrogen storage and the high costs of developing a hydrogen infrastructure, car manufacturers are actively studying alternatives such as methanol and a clean hydrocarbon. Methanol can be made of fossil fuels (like natural gas) as well as from renewables (such as biomass). The ‘clean hydrocarbon’ is in...

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