Japan's Suzuki Motors has formed a joint venture with UK-based Intelligent Energy to manufacture fuel-cell systems.
Based in Loughborough, Leicestershire, Intelligent Energy, which has supplied its system to Boeing Co to power the world's first manned fuel cell aircraft, will form a joint venture company called Smile FC System Corporation with Suzuki, to develop and manufacture air-cooled fuel cell systems.
The JV will give Suzuki access to Intelligent Energy's fuel cell technology for its next generation of environmentally friendly fuel cell vehicles.
Under the terms of the contract, both companies will hold a 50-per cent stake in Smile FC System, which will be led by Osamu Honda, executive vice president and representative director for Suzuki, who will become president of the company that will be based in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka, with operations initially based in Yokohama.
Fuel cells from Intelligent Energy have already been used in the zero-emission Suzuki Bergman fuel cell scooter and Crosscage motorcycle, and in Boeing's first manned fuel-cell aircraft.
''Suzuki Motor Corporation has been developing fuel-cell vehicles with Intelligent Energy since 2006, and this successful relationship has led to the formation of Smile FC System Corporation,'' said Honda. ''I believe that we can accelerate the commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles through this joint venture with Intelligent Energy.''
The JV will give the Japanese automaker cost-effective access to fuel cell technology through partnering and licensing with Intelligent Energy, thereby avoiding the higher costs associated with in-house development, while Intelligent Energy will benefit from Suzuki's production expertise and the Japanese supply chain to jointly develop the next generation of automotive standard air-cooled fuel cell systems.