DaimlerChrysler AG and Ford Motor Co. are “readjusting” their partnership with fuel-cell system manufacturer Ballard Power Systems – giving Ballard a further $85 million in funding but requiring it to “intensify” its focus on researching and building vehicle-grade fuel cell propulsion systems.

Under the revamped “Vehicular Fuel Cell Alliance” formed by the three firms several years ago, DaimlerChrysler and Ford now plan to acquire Ballard's vehicular fuel-cell systems business (Ballard AG, formerly XCELLSIS) but jointly be responsible for the research, development and manufacturing of the vehicular fuel cell system.

The three partners have also agreed to jointly develop program plans for the next generation vehicular fuel cell, electric drive and fuel cell system – as well as establish a framework for the development and funding of the follow-on next generation fuel cell and fuel cell technology.

DaimlerChrysler and Ford will also acquire ownership of Ballard Power Systems’ 50.1% interest in Ballard AG, in exchange for the return to Ballard of 9 million of its common shares that are currently held by DaimlerChrysler and Ford, valued at $80.4 million based on the July 7 closing price of $8.93 per share. These shares would then be cancelled.

Further, the forward sale agreement related to the purchase by Ballard of the remaining 49.9 percent interest of Ballard AG from DaimlerChrysler in exchange for the issuance of 7.6 million shares of Ballard to DaimlerChrysler, would be modified accordingly, resulting in a 100% ownership of Ballard AG by DaimlerChrysler and Ford. Ballard predicts it would lose $18 million in its third fiscal quarter this year as a result of this transaction.

“We believe restructuring the alliance will keep Ford highly competitive in the development and introduction of hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles,” said Gerhard Schmidt, Ford’s vp-research and advanced engineering. “It will allow [us] to build on our long record of fuel cell vehicle innovation and success, as we travel on a road to a hydrogen-powered future.”