The car will not be the first application for fuel cells. This is one of the conclusions in the doctoral thesis of Robert van den Hoed, which he will defend on 17 May at TU Delft. “My research project confirms that large organisations such as in the automobile industry have trouble implementing radical changes.” A fuel cell powered car as a case to gain insight into radical innovation theory.
For years now, fuel cells running on hydrogen have been mentioned as an environmentally friendly alternative to the common internal combustion engine. Unfortunately, radical innovation theory predicts that large industries, such as the automobile industry, will probably not be the first to embrace a new technology such as the fuel cell,” says Van den Hoed. “Dinosaurs don’t fly. To its credit though, the automobile industry, which is often accused of conservatism, has already invested billions of Euros in the technology.”
Van den Hoed used this contradiction as a starting point for his research into the motives and mechanisms that could explain the continuing popularity of the combustion engine in the industry. Examining press releases, patents and technology strategies, Van den Hoed studied the innovation process of the fuel cell powered car. He studied twelve brands, among which: General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and BMW.
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