Ballard's Dennis Campbell: "We have a real strong supply of cash: about $250 million.
Two years ago when President Bush mentioned hydrogen as a fuel source for automobiles in his State of the Union address, fuel cells and hydrogen were the next big things with investors. What happened?
Wall Street has very short vision. All the fuel cell stocks have been hammered. I can't explain it. I can't get excited about it. We just have to keep our nose down and keep doing what we are doing.
How does the drop in stock price affect your business?
In our case, we have a real strong supply of cash: about $260 million. Our balance sheet is really solid. You have other companies that have a 15-month supply of cash. We have a three- to four-year supply. So that's how it affects you. If you can't go to the market and raise money and you are out of money, you are going to be in trouble.
You've said Ballard is going to meet the Department of Energy's targets for fuel cell performance in 2010. What exactly does that mean?
We are going to hit the DOE targets, which are very clear: $30 per kilowatt hour, 5,000 hours of durability and the ability to start up at minus-20 degrees. Once we meet those targets, it will probably be two to four years before we have that powertrain in a car. We'll be ready.
What parts of your business are you selling back to Ford and DaimlerChrysler, and why?
With the hybrid technology emerging the way it has, the importance of integrating the system with the vehicle, the load sharing, the power sharing, has become so great that the automakers have decided they want to take that systems business back. So we are now going to sell that business to Ford and Chrysler, who are forming a joint-venture company in Stuttgart to manage this balance-of-plant part of the fuel cell engine. We'll close the deal in the next two months.
What would it take for fuel cells and hydrogen to regain the interest of Wall Street?
A national energy policy is very important. We'd like to see the government buy fleets of fuel cell vehicles; go out and buy 5,000 vehicles for the postal service. And let us build those vehicles and gain the experience.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at [email protected]