Suzuki Motor Corporation and Intelligent Energy Holdings PLC (IEH) of UK, have come together to work on a joint venture called SMILE FC System Corporation in order to research and develop air cooled fuel cell systems for a wide range of industry items and later manufacture it for the automobile market. Both the companies have worked together since past some year now and they have earned themselves European Union Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) last year in March, 2011 for a scooter called the Burgmanfuel cell scooter. This scooter is the world’s first vehicle equipped with a fuel cell to earn it. Both the companies have been showcasing co-developed motorbikes, which are equipped with the air-cooled fuel cell system, at the Tokyo Motor Show 2007, 2009 and 2011.
This joint venture has a non-exclusive agreement of license in favor of Suzuki, which allows it to have a full access to the fuel cell technology of Intelligent Energy for its forthcoming generation of fuel cell vehicles. According to the terms of contract, both the indulging companies will have a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture. The joint venture will have its headquarter in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka while its operations will initially bebased in Yokohoma. It is to be led by the Executive Vice President and Representative Director, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Mr. Oasamu Hondawho will also become President, SMILE FC System Corporation.
Both the companies with SMILE FC at its core, will attempt at reducing cost of production and develop a technology for mass-production and construction of fuel cell with which they could later on take charge of the global supply chain of fuel cell spare-parts. This technology will not only make the fuel cost low of the vehicle but also add on to the power and refinement of the engine of the vehicle. This in turn would give an excellent experience while riding and after some years driving. The vehicle longevity will increase and the cost of the vehicle, if mass-produced, will be very affordable. Making every fuel cost conscious person switching to fuel cell vehicles from the conventional ones. There will be more safety, as it will be breaking better with more regenerative electrical breaking power in a vehicle which is lighter than usual. Moreover the conventional breaks will be lasting longer cutting the cost on replacements.
The Burgman fuel cell scooter has a single polymer-electrolyte type fuel cell with a high pressure (70MPa) tank within its frame storing hydrogen fuel. This gives the scooter a riding range of approximately 350km on a full tank in combination with a lithium ion battery in it. Suzuki also showed off an SX4 platform based fuel cell car in the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show. All these moves clearly indicate to one thing that Suzuki is very determined on taking over the fuel cell vehicle segment of automobile in the future and thus it is coming up with all innovative designs. The sooner this effort, for a pollution free vehicle, of Suzuki succeeds at the earliest, the better it is going to be for everybody.