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Daimler and Honda Score Highest in Assessment of Light-Duty Fuel Cell Vehicle Manufacturers

August 10, 2011
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BOULDER, CO---The light duty fuel cell vehicle (FCV) market is in a ramp up to commercialization. Automakers have diverged in their commitment to this market in recent years. Several of the major global automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have aggressive programs to develop a commercial FCV as part of their suite of sustainable vehicles, while others have pulled back. At the same time, a few new players have entered the arena, with the potential to disrupt the market. According to a new Pike Pulse report published by Pike Research, the two light-duty FCV manufacturers who are best positioned in this formative stage of the market are Daimler and Honda.

“Automakers will continue to refine their products between now and the 2014/2015 deadline for commercial launch,” says senior analyst Lisa Jerram. “In order to meet this target, the OEMs must continue to test and refine their fuel cell systems as well as the vehicle integration and optimization. They will also be focused on driving down vehicle costs.”

Jerram adds that Daimler attained the highest overall score in the Pike Pulse report, since it has laid out a clear path to producing a commercially viable FCV. Other contributing factors include its strong relationships with infrastructure and government partners and its recent announcement to partner with Linde on infrastructure development. However, Daimler has made ambitious announcements on fuel cell technology readiness in the past, and these did not come to fruition. The company recently moved up its target date to 2014 from 2015. If its proclaimed dates begin to slip, Daimler’s position could quickly change.

Honda is the runner-up in Pike Research’s analysis, based on the high-quality execution of its FCV, the Clarity, its efforts to lay the groundwork for a commercial launch, and its continued public commitment to FCV commercialization. Yet, the company must be careful in regards to the slow rollout of its Clarity fleet; if the rollout does not ramp up in 2011, Honda’s outlook could wane.

The “Pike Pulse Report: Light-Duty Fuel Cell Vehicles” evaluates 10 auto OEMs working on fuel cell vehicles and rates them on 12 criteria for strategy and execution, including go-to-market strategy, product portfolio, partnerships, innovation, reach, market share, pricing, and staying power. Using Pike Research’s proprietary Pike Pulse methodology, the OEMs are profiled, rated, and ranked with the goal of providing an objective assessment of these companies’ relative strengths and weaknesses in the market.

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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