US: GM announces fourth generation fuel cell

By just-auto.com editorial team | 18 September 2006

GM has announced the launch of its fourth generation hydrogen fuel cell, dubbed the Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell.

The company will build around 100 vehicles equipped with the new cells and place them with customers from the autumn of 2007 in a plan called "Project Driveway".

GM's engineering centre in Oshawa, Canada, is playing a key engineering role in converting the vehicles. The project is supported by the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments as part of GM Canada's Beacon Project (announced in March 2005).

Special cold weather development work will be carried out for these zero emission vehicles at GM's cold weather development centre in Kapuskasing, Ontario. The Chevrolet Equinox model line is built in Ingersoll, Ontario.

"Project Driveway", which will put 100 fuel cell vehicles into daily use, is intended to give the automaker a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the customer experience and is claimed to be the first meaningful market test of fuel cell vehicles anywhere.

A variety of drivers, in differing environments, will operate the vehicles in three geographic areas where hydrogen refueling is feasible - California, the New York metropolitan area, and Washington DC.

GM says the Equinox Fuel Cell is a fully-functional crossover vehicle, engineered for an 80,000km (50,000-mile) life. Importantly, it can start and operate in sub-freezing temperatures. It is expected to meet all applicable 2007 US federal motor vehicle safety standards, and is equipped with standard safety features including driver, passenger and roof rail airbags, anti-lock braking System (ABS), 'StabiliTrak' stability enhancement technology and OnStar telematics, while providing all of the environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

"[The project] will directly influence future fuel cell vehicle generations and ultimate market acceptance," the automaker said. "Chevrolet as GM's global volume brand will lead GM's fuel cell vehicle commercialisation charge."