Extensive anniversary celebration amidst an atmosphere of great expectancy
Puchheim, 19.November 2018 – If not now, then when? Dr. Johannes Töpler from the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (Deutscher Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellen-Verband) concluded his presentation on sustainability and performance during the Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH´s 20th anniversary celebration by saying: “It is the right time to do it. It is the right time to do it.” Other speakers, including Rupert Buchsteiner, Vice President, Magna International, Dr. Tobias Christoph Brunner, Managing Director, Hynergy GmbH, and Reinhold Wurster, Senior Consultant at Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH, also confirmed the feeling of being in the right place at the right time during the festivities attended by approximately 100 guests with an integrated in-house exhibition at the Proton Motor premises in Puchheim, in Bavaria, Germany. Because if the time has not come for the pioneer of fuel cell technology, who is designing, manufacturing and further developing sustainable drive and energy solutions for mobile and stationary applications, when will it be?
A spirit of optimism prevailed during the welcoming speech by Director Sales and Marketing, Manfred Limbrunner and the motivating words of Dr. Faiz Francois Nahab Ph.D., Managing Director and Majority shareholder of Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH. This visionary related to all those present, including business partners and customers of Proton Motor, about the beginnings and first steps of the company, he mentioned significant milestones and successes, referring to some of the current projects, including the Fuel Cell Range Extended Electric Vehicle (FCREEV) from Magna Steyr equipped with a HyRange® fuel cell system, which was exhibited during the in-house exhibition.
Those who listened to Dr. Johannes Töpler’s lecture, however, were also confronted with the fact that the mills of environmentally sound progress are slowly grinding. Using a graph by Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, a natural scientist who was awarded the German Environmental Prize in 2008, he raised the question as to why so many people think that we should first get rich before we start dealing with climate problems. As early as the mid-1990s, Weizsäcker made it clear in his book “Factor Four” that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, we in Germany are lagging far behind our climate targets, especially in the transport sector. Reinhold Wurster also made this clear in his presentation on “Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Transport Sector – Climate Protection, Energy Turnaround and Industrial Strategy”. By 2030, for example, we would have to achieve a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in heavy goods traffic. In other words, the visionaries of Proton Motor and its partners have to contend with this reality.
These factors cannot be ignored: since the beginning of the 20th century, the earth’s surface temperature has increased by almost one degree Celsius. Almost all glaciers are retreating. The Arctic sea ice is melting and the continental ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are increasingly losing mass. Sea levels have risen by an average of around 20 centimetres worldwide. Above all because the sea water in the depths of the ocean has warmed up and expanded. In his book “The End of the Oceans”, climate researcher and university professor Mojib Latif warns: “Limiting climate change to a level that does not collapse terrestrial and marine ecosystems is now a real Herculean task. For too long people have only watched.” The climate researcher known from radio and television describes the increase in global CO2 emissions by around 60 percent in the period from 1990 to 2013 inclusive as a declaration of bankruptcy of international climate protection policy.
Many people may have watched too long. The people at and behind Proton Motor took the future into their own hands 20 years ago and continue to set standards today. For example in 2001 with the world’s first fuel cell forklift truck at Munich Airport. Or in 2004 with the emission-free minibuses with 40 kW fuel cell systems that were put into service at the Bavarian bus company “Z Mobility”. The same year saw the world premiere of the EcoCarrier HY3. In 2013, Proton Motor unveiled the first battery and fuel cell-powered electric commercial vehicle in the 7.5 to 12 t weight class. One year later, the 7.5 t truck with the hybrid 8 kW fuel cell/battery system (HyRange®) set a world record from Munich to Berlin.
The guests at the anniversary celebration were able to inform themselves about current products and projects directly on site. In addition to the Fuel Cell Range Extended Electric Vehicle, the Puchheim company also exhibited the small electric bus e.GO Mover. This is in connection with the joint venture e.GO REX GmbH between the electric car company e.GO Mobile AG from Aachen and Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH. Visitors were also able to take a closer look at the emergency power system with the internal name “Edelweiss”. Of course there was enough time during the whole day event to exchange ideas with like-minded people, to philosophize about the future, to push new plans and to strengthen culinary skills.