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

October 02, 2002

GM Unveils Hywire Fuel-Cell Car, Two Carbon-Fiber-Bodied Cars

General Motors Corporation (GM) unveiled three concept vehicles in late September that indicate multiple possible futures for fuel-efficient vehicles. The most anticipated debut was that of the Hywire, GM's fuel-cell-powered concept vehicle, built on the "AUTOnomy" concept introduced by GM early this year. The concept vehicle, which is fully functional and drivable, incorporates three hydrogen fuel tanks, a 94-kilowatt fuel cell, an electric motor, and all-electric steering and braking components in an 11-inch-thick aluminum chassis. A fiberglass body connects to the chassis using 10 mechanical linkages and one electrical "docking port" that conveys all the control signals from the driver to the chassis. Relying on "drive-by-wire" technologies, the car is driven with a hands-only steering wheel reminiscent of some video game consoles. Weighing in at just under 4,200 pounds, the car sports a top speed of 99 miles per hour.

In contrast, GM's Ultralite concept car counts on low weight and a minimal drag coefficient to achieve high mileage using today's fuel technologies. The carbon-fiber body allows the four-seat car to achieve a weight of only 1,400 pounds, while a computer-controlled suspension helps the Tron-like vehicle slip through the air with a drag coefficient of only 0.192. Those factors combine to yield a fuel efficiency of 84 miles per gallon. Taking a page from the Hywire, the Ultralite features a modular drive train that can be switched between gasoline, natural gas, and electric drive systems.

GM's Opel brand brought a turbo diesel approach to fuel efficiency in an aggressive sports car called the Eco-Speedster, which again features a carbon-fiber body. The 112-horsepower two-seater concept car achieves 94 miles to the gallon and can reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour.

All three cars were introduced to the public at the Paris Auto Show, which runs from September 26th through October 13th. To learn more, visit the "GM Experience Live at the Paris Motor Show 2002" on the GM Web site.