As the hoopla surrounding the arrival of the hydrogen fuel cell caravan began to die down at the Vancouver Convention Center yesterday, we ran into Roy Kim from the California Fuel Cell Partnership. Kim was along for all 1,700 miles of the whole Road Tour and was ready to go back to a normal schedule. Before could let that happen, though, we asked him about the tour and how the vehicles survived the drive.
Kim said that the tour hit 28 cities in three states and two countries along the I-5 corridor from Southern California to Vancouver. Hydrogen vehicles from seven different manufacturers were along for the drive. Kim has been on these sort of long tours before, and said that the vehicles performed well even as temperatures reached 100 degrees F in some areas. In previous years, tow trucks have been along for similar rides, just in case. This year, everyone was comfortable that their vehicles would perform as promised and the tow trucks were left behind (and not needed). "The technical barriers for fuel cells in extreme temperatures, those really don't exist any more," Kim said.
The stops along the way were all designed to either promote the idea of new hydrogen fueling stations in the future, to dedicate a new station now, or to promote other hydrogen-related work. During a stop at the Sandia National Lab, for example. Kim said that a lot of the hydrogen researchers had "some pretty strong statements about how funding must continue" in response to the DOE's recent hydrogen vehicle budget cuts. One of the tie-ins for the Vancouver end point was that hydrogen buses will be used to ferry Olympic athletes during the upcoming 2010 Winter games.
Give Kim a listen (6 min):