To illustrate the rapid path of technological development in this chapter, selected automotive prototypes are presented. These examples cannot cover the broad field of component and system development. Since virtually all major vehicle manufacturers are investigating fuel cell technologies, the most prominent examples have been selected. As with any new technology, it is not yet clear whether the first fuel cell system and vehicle prototypes presented will also lead to the first-to-market products or whether other companies will dominate the future market.
Sustainable development requires that we use limited natural resources efficiently in order to guarantee a basis for the life of future human generations. In order to stop and—in the best case—reverse the trend of increasing energy consumption for transportation and increasing greenhouse gas emissions, efficiency improvements and the use of renewable resources are a prerequisite for further development.
From an economic perspective it is necessary to use resources efficiently. As for road transportation, there are principally two solution paths that should be followed in parallel. First, advanced internal combustion engines with direct-injection, vehicles using lightweight materials, advanced electronic motor management, and hybrid drive systems as well as improvements in aerodynamics and rolling resistance can increase energy efficiencies.
Second, new drive systems may be introduced in future vehicle generations. Fuel cell systems are able to reach no or extremely low local emissions as well