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Daimler, Ford to partner on fuel cell company

Automakers say privately held automotive fuel cell company, built from assets of Ballard Power Systems, will be catalyst for fuel cell cars, global competition.

Daimler and Ford Motor are partnering on a privately held company to develop automotive fuel cell technology, both companies announced Thursday.

The companies plan to buy the automotive fuel cell business unit of Ballard Power Systems, a British Columbia-based supplier of hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles. From that asset, they plan to start a private company, according to a joint statement.

Daimler will own a 50.1 percent share of the new company, Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC), the companies said. Ford Motor will own a 30 percent share, and 19.9 percent will be owned by Ballard.

AFCC will consist of about 150 employees and specialize in developing fuel cells for cars and buses. Ballard on its own will continue to concentrate on nonautomotive fuel cell applications.

The new company will allow Daimler to "go full steam ahead in our preparations for the series production of fuel cell cars," according to Daimler.

"The fuel cell remains one of the most viable solutions to develop a sustainable, zero-emissions vehicle. The creation of the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation is an investment in our future," Gerhard Schmidt, Ford's vice president of research and advanced engineering, said in a statement.

In October, Daimler invested in Choren Industries, a company that specializes in renewable-fuel technologies.