Implications for Strategy and Industrial Change
Edited by Ken Green, Marcela Miozzo and Paul Dewick
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 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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