Methanex and Mitsubishi to Promote Methanol Fuel Cell Vehicles in Japan

Vancouver-based Methanex, the world's largest producer and marketer of methanol, expects Japan to become one of the first countries to widely introduce automotive fuel cells.

Published: 27-Nov-2000

VANCOUVER (CP) - Methanol producer Methanex Corp. has formed a strategic alliance with Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co. to promote the use of methanol in environment-friendly fuel cell vehicles in Japan.

The companies say they will work with governments and the private sector ``to address any potential regulatory hurdles and encourage the initiation of methanol-based fuel cell vehicle demonstration programs,'' according to a joint release.

Vancouver-based Methanex, the world's largest producer and marketer of methanol, expects Japan to become one of the first countries to widely introduce automotive fuel cells. There are more than 35,000 hybrid-engine vehicles - powered by a mix of electricity and fuel - on the road in Japan.

``We believe that methanol is particularly well-suited for the Japanese market and that our co-operation with strong partners such as Mitsubishi and Mitsui will facilitate the commercialization of this environmentally friendly technology,'' Methanex chief executive Pierre Choquette said.

The companies will also work with the auto industry to ensure a common fuel specification and provide assurance that high-standard methanol will be available at retail stations.

In addition, they will co-operate with Japanese retailers on supplying reasonably priced methanol fuel.

``We believe that this alliance with Methanex and Mitsui will convince the Japanese of the environmental benefit brought by methanol fuel cell vehicles and hope such vehicles will be introduced into the Japanese market first in the world,'' said Yasuo Sone, managing director Mitsubishi Corp.'s chemicals division.

Methanex, which posted a $60.4-million US net profit in the third quarter, signed a deal early this month to acquire the European methanol business and inventory of Britain's ICI chemical company for about $22 million US.

Late last month, Methanex rival Ballard Power Systems Inc., also based in Vancouver, announced it had aligned with New Jersey-based Millennium Cell Inc. to develop a hydrogen generation system for use with Ballard's portable fuel cells.

Shares in Methanex rose 25 cents before noon Monday to $8.05 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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