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Ford and Mobil form strategic alliance

5 March 1998

Ford Motor Company and Mobil Corporation have entered into a broad based strategic alliance to speed the development and integration of breakthrough fuel and vehicle technologies.

Mobil chairman and CEO Lucio A. Noto and Ford chairman and CEO Alex Trotman said that the alliance calls for near-, intermediate- and long-term initiatives that could lead to major advancements in automotive fuel and powertrain technology and a wider market for alternative fuel vehicles. These developments, in turn, would have the potential to produce big gains in vehicle fuel efficiency and significant reductions in emissions.

"We look forward to this alliance with Ford," said Mobil's Noto. "It offers great potential to develop new hydrocarbon based fuels and power sources which could be of significant benefit to both the traveling public and the environment. We have always supported the efficient use of our products and want to continue enhancing them to make them environmentally welcome in the 21st century. That's why we are calling our joint effort 'Let's Drive for a Better Future.'"

"The pooling of the vast resources and experience of two great companies to bring better fuels and vehicles to market sooner is an exciting development," said Trotman. "Combining our efforts on fuel processor technology and clean diesel systems, in particular, can speed the R&D process. This is an excellent fit. We've felt for some time at Ford that having a strategic partner from the petroleum industry was a high priority, and Mobil is an ideal choice. Our products depend on each other and we share the same customers. This alliance not only holds promise for our customers and the environment, but can also provide both our companies with competitive advantage."

The longer term project focuses on the technology needed to develop a commercially viable compact fuel processor for fuel-cell-powered vehicles. The processor would extract hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuels such as gasoline and diesel. The hydrogen would be converted by the fuel cell to generate electric power to drive the vehicle. Such a system could yield major fuel efficiency and emissions benefits, as well as the important advantages of utilizing an existing fuel distribution infrastructure. Ford indicated that the project will support its already announced fuel-cell alliance with Daimler-Benz and Ballard Power Systems and that both of these partners would be involved. Mobil officials confirmed that they too had been involved in discussions with Daimler.

"We wanted to participate in the promising development of fuel processor technology so that the motoring public will benefit from the most efficient, lowest environmental impact technology," said Noto, "and we were very much impressed with the work that Ford and its alliance partners have been doing on fuel cell based powertrains."

The Mobil-Ford alliance's focus for the intermediate term is on the development of a fully integrated direct injection diesel system, encompassing fuel, engine and catalytic after-treatment processes. The two companies have been working on various aspects of this system independently for their own products. "Advanced diesel engines and cleaner diesel fuels offer one of the best internal combustion approaches for reducing CO2 emissions without compromising reliability, affordability or range. These could be very different fuels from what the public presently thinks of as diesel, and Mobil is a clear leader in their development," said Trotman.

The companies will also work on addressing the logjam that has kept alternative fuel vehicles from reaching the market in full force. "Ford leads the industry in developing and offering a range of alternative fuel cars and trucks, and we are proud of what we have accomplished," said the Ford chairman. "But market acceptance has been slow, partly because of limited infrastructure. We believe that by working with Mobil to evaluate the full vehicle/fuel supply equation, we can determine the potential of natural gas and other alternative fuels, and perhaps find some better ways of marketing our excellent alternative fuel products."

Source: Ford Motor Company