Suzuki in fuel cell JV with UK's Intelligent Energy

LONDON Tue Feb 7, 2012 11:54am EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corp. (7269.T) has formed a joint venture to manufacture fuel cell systems with UK-headquartered Intelligent Energy, the firms said on Tuesday.

The deal gives Suzuki access to the clean energy developer's fuel cell technology for its next generation of fuel cell vehicles through a non-exclusive license agreement.

Osamu Honda, who is vice president and representative director at Suzuki, will be president of the 50-50 venture, called SMILE FC System Corporation.

"The joint venture will accelerate the number of our systems for mass manufacturing and it allows Suzuki to avoid the higher costs of in-house development," Henri Winand, chief executive of Intelligent Energy, told Reuters.

Fuel cells from Intelligent Energy have already been used in the zero-emission Suzuki Bergman scooter and in Boeing's (BA.N) first manned fuel-cell aircraft.

CEO Winand said demand continues to grow, with turnover of $20 million last year and supply deals with five car manufacturers.

Stricter rules on emissions are helping spur technology development though the market remains small due to the challenges posed by bringing costs down and creating infrastructure to support the new vehicles.

BP (BP.L) and Exxon (XOM.N) have recently released data which points to electric cars making up only 4-5 percent of all cars globally in 20 to 30 years, while some governments are targeting as much as a 60 percent market share.

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