|In an historic announcement, BMW, Renault and Delphi
Automotive Systems have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding that will enable
further cooperation on a co-development agreement among the companies to produce vehicles
that use a solid-oxide fuel cell as auxiliary power for cars and trucks.
of understanding will be oficially signed on Tuesday, May 2 at Delphi's Paris Headquarters
by Dr Burkhard Göschel, BMW board member responsible for development and purchasing; Jose
Maria Alapont, president of Delphi Automotive Systems; and Pierre-Alain De Smedt, Renault
Executive vice president. A co-development agreement among the three companies is expected
to be reached in the next 60 to 90 days.
This proposed partnership expands the existing development agreement reached in April
1999 between BMW and Delphi in which they are jointly developing a fuel cell system to be
used as an auxiliary power unit for gasoline engines for passenger vehicles, to now also
include diesel-fuel solid-oxide fuel cell reformers for Renault light- and heavy-duty
trucks. This technology will allow BMW and Renault to offer vehicles with more electrical
and electronic features that will be able to operate with the engine off. The technology
also has the potential to reduce some of the emissions of an internal combustion engine.
Delphi will develop the gasoline and diesel fuel cell systems, and BMW and Renault will
integrate the system into their respective vehicles within the next five years.
The solid-oxide fuel cell unit will provide more energy into the vehicle to enhance its
electrical systems and provide greater functionality for the consumer.
The use of the solid-oxide fuel cell has three main advantages:
w Provides superior customer benefits.
One of the benefits that the fuel cell APU offers, according to BMW's Göschel, is the
ability to provide power when the engine is not running. This feature, he explained, has
appeal to those customers who, when stuck in congested traffic, may want to run heating or
cooling with the engine turned off, thereby saving energy and reducing emissions. With
this partnership, BMW fully intends to be the first automaker to bring this feature to
market for passenger car customers.
w Creates an environmentally friendly system.
According to Alapont, Delphi sees the potential that "once we have hydrogen on
board with the fuel cell, we will be able to combine fuel and hydrogen, which will result
in significantly reducing emissions, creating a clean internal combustion engine.
w Promotes higher efficiency, which improves fuel economy.
According to De Smedt, at Renault, this fuel cell APU is "almost twice as
efficient as an engine, generator and battery combined. This high efficiency translates
into better fuel economy, which from Renault's perspective is especially important for
diesel-powered light- and heavy-duty trucks," he said.
Göschel, De Smedt and Alapont all agree that combining the power of these three
companies should make this technology more economically feasible. points out that
solid-oxide fuel cells do not contain precious materials, and that BMW and Renault
anticipate volume production; therefore, the technology should be more attractive and more
According to Donald L. Runkle, Delphi executive vice president and president of
Delphi's Dynamics & Propulsion sector, "Consumers have demonstrated they will
gravitate to the most economical solution,". "This teaming up to address fuel
cells and other advanced technology development will give consumers what they have told us
they want - a vehicle that is efficient, affordable, environmentally friendly,
technologically advanced and fun to drive. Working together, we're on our way to achieving
(May 2, 2000)