This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 20, 2006

GM to Launch World's Largest Fuel Cell Vehicle Fleet in 2007

General Motors Corporation (GM) announced on September 17th that it will build a fleet of more than 100 fuel cell vehicles for on-road testing next year. The Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle will feature GM's fourth-generation fuel cell system and will be designed to run for 50,000 miles. The crossover vehicle will be "a real-world vehicle with real-world performance," according to GM, meeting all U.S. safety standards and being able to start and run in sub-freezing temperatures. Under a plan dubbed "Project Driveway," GM will deliver the vehicles to a variety of drivers in California, the New York City area, and Washington, D.C. According to GM, the Project Driveway market test will provide insight into all aspects of the customer experience, such as driving the fuel cell vehicles and refueling them with hydrogen gas. See the GM press release.

While GM prepares to launch its new fuel cell vehicle, a number of manufacturers aim to bridge the gap between gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines (ICEs) and hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles by building vehicles with hydrogen-fueled ICEs. Ford Motor Company began producing hydrogen-fueled V-10 engines in July for installation in shuttle buses that will be delivered to a fleet customer in Florida later this year. Hydrogen also works in rotary engines, as Mazda recently demonstrated by displaying an RX-8 in Norway that could burn either hydrogen or gasoline. And the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) seems to think hydrogen ICEs are a good idea, too, as the agency is offering $5 million for demonstration projects involving hydrogen fueling stations and hydrogen ICEs. See the press releases from Ford and Mazda and the NYSERDA Program Opportunity Notice.