The US Army took delivery of the first Chevy Equinox fuel-cell vehicle yesterday during a Washington, D.C. ceremony that marked the kickoff of GM's new Project Driveway initiative. Maj. Gen. Roger A. Nadeau (above), commander of the US Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command, was on hand to accept the keys from GM's Larry Burns and Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
The fuel-cell Equinox will be used for general transportation duties on bases in Virginia and California, and will afford the military additional real-world experience regarding FCV operation, maintenance and logistics. The Army and GM have a history of woking together with FCVs, the most recent example being the Silverado Fuel Cell Truck y into service last year.
In a somewhat humorous aside, the joint press release issued by GM, the Army, and Senator Levin's office notes that the Equinox will be used for "non-tactical" purposes. Hello? It's an Equinox alternative-fuel vehicle. Saying that it's not intended for tactical use is akin to taking out an ad in the newspaper to tell readers the sky is blue.
It's also apparent that not all the Project Driveway FCVs have the new-look face seen on the press photos released last week by GM. The Army's machine (right) has the enlarged grille opening and added intakes in the front bumper, but it's obviously a variation on the old Equinox front end. Looks like a facelift may be on the horizon.
(Press release after the jump)
U.S. Army Takes Delivery of GM's Latest Fuel Cell Vehicle Army First Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell Vehicle Customer
Washington, D. C. - The U.S. Army became the first customer of General Motors Corp.'s latest fuel cell technology today as the automaker deployed the first vehicle of its next generation Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle fleet.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a champion of fuel cell technology, and Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development and strategic planning, gave the Equinox Fuel Cell keys to Army Maj. Gen. Roger A. Nadeau, commander of the U.S. Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command.
On Sunday, GM announced "Project Driveway", a comprehensive market test to place 100 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles with consumers in three key U.S. regions: California, Washington, D.C. and the New York City metropolitan area. A variety of drivers, including individual consumers, will begin driving the vehicles in the fall of 2007. The fuel cell vehicle the Army received today is a vehicle which will enable a direct performance assessment of GM's latest generation of fuel cell technology.
"The delivery of this vehicle today illustrates what is possible with the powerful collaboration of industry and government," said Sen. Levin. "The Army's involvement with this important program demonstrates the military's commitment to develop and test alternatives that will offer tremendous potential to reduce our dependence on oil on the battlefield. This vehicle also highlights the important work occurring in our domestic auto industry to move toward fuel cell vehicles, and the Army provides an important test bed for this technology."
The Army's fuel cell vehicle will be used for non-tactical transportation purposes, primarily on military bases in Virginia and California. It is powered by GM's fourth generation fuel cell propulsion system, offering significantly improved performance, refinement and range as compared with earlier generation vehicles. The Army's vehicle is a four-passenger crossover vehicle, with 186 miles of petroleum-free operating range. Safety features include driver and passenger airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and OnStar.
"GM is demonstrating its commitment to hydrogen fuel cells as the answer for taking the automobile out of the environmental debate and reducing our dependence on petroleum," Burns said. "The U.S. Army is an important partner in validating GM's fuel cell technology in real use operation. Delivery of this vehicle is an important milestone in the Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle program announced last week, and in our ongoing relationship with the U.S. Army."
GM has a history of working with the Army on demonstrating and evaluating fuel cell vehicles. In April 2005, the U.S. Army took delivery of the Chevrolet Silverado Fuel Cell truck, the world's first compressed-hydrogen fuel cell pickup, for demonstration and evaluation in different climates and locations around the U.S. In addition to using the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle to evaluate the performance of GM's latest fuel cell technology, the military will continue to obtain first-hand experience with the operation, maintenance and logistics of fuel cell vehicles. This vehicle is an engineered prototype of the 100 vehicle Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell market test fleet that GM will deploy to various customers beginning in the fall of 2007.
The U.S. Army has one of the largest fleets of vehicles in the world and GM produces more than half of the non-tactical U.S. military vehicles purchased each year. Improving fuel economy and reducing the logistics of the fuel supply chain could save millions of dollars.
General Motors Corporation
General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 327,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit , GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries. In 2005, 9.17 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. GM operates one of the world's leading finance companies, GMAC Financial Services, which offers automotive, residential and commercial financing and insurance. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.
U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM)
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command gets technology out of the laboratories and puts it into the hands of warfighters as quickly as possible. RDECOM manages eight laboratories and research, development and engineering centers, plus the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity, System of Systems Integration, international technology centers, and capability and technology integrated process teams. RDECOM maintains liaisons to the field, hundreds of international agreements, and engineer and scientist exchange programs. RDECOM has more than 17,000 military, civilian and direct contractor personnel, a multi-billion dollar annual budget and is responsible for 75 percent of the Army's science and technology objectives. RDECOM provides direct support of the technical base to Future Combat Systems and Future Force, ensuring the nation has the protection it needs for the 21st century and beyond. More information on the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command can be found at www.rdecom.army.mil.