GM and Toyota pull back on fuel cells

GM and Toyota aren’t saying a great deal on the matter, but reports in Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper yesterday claim the two automakers will stop working together to develop fuel cells. The pair, which will carry on researching other new technologies, had been cooperating on the super-clean power source since 2004, but are believed to have disagreed on intellectual property issues. Still, even if the reports prove to be correct, proponents of greener motoring shouldn’t be too disheartened. For one thing, you can guarantee both companies will continue to invest in fuel cells independently. GM has already spent $1 billion on the technology while hybrid pacesetter Toyota already leases a few fuel cell vehicles in Japan and will be determined to keep its environment credentials intact. In any case, research into other new green techs will make an impact far more quickly than fuel cells, which even proponents say will take many years to commercialize at affordable prices. And with fast-growing Toyota facing worker shortages in Japan—not to mention GM’s well-documented financial problems—the two companies may consider that their resources will be better targeted on other alternatives to gasoline and more efficient hybrids.