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News of  May 05, 2000


BMW, Renault, Delphi team up to develop fuel cell auxiliary power unit
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.

The memorandum 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 affordable.

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 that goal."

(May 2, 2000)


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