The Chevrolet Sequel is not just a demonstration of hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion system. The Sequel is also a showcase for advanced technologies such as steering- and brake-by-wire. It's a peek into the next decade when new vehicles will put more faith into computers and rely less on petroleum.

General Motors recently offered a few journalists-and even Red Hot Chili Pepper's front man Anthony Kiedis-a chance to test drive the Sequel over a pre-determined - and quite secure - route on Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. There were no opportunities for high-speed bursts, sharp turns or panic stops. Just as the hydrogen program is still in its infancy-at least what can be seen outside the laboratory-GM is allowing journalists only baby steps behind the wheel. Sometimes those are the most memorable.

The Sequel obviously wasn't in production trim. This Sequel is a result of a management's decision about three years ago to move beyond the concept stage and build a drivable hydrogen test vehicle that would appeal to a popular consumer segment. Officials freely admit they're working on next generation equipment and even showed off a model of a fully capable fuel-cell pack that was about the size of a 4-cylinder engine. Development continues on even more powerful, lighter and more efficient fuel cells as well as batteries and storage solutions. The big question: when will management give the go-ahead to build a production vehicle?

Continue reading about the GM Sequel after the jump.

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told Automotive News that he would delay other mainstream products to free up funds to fund production versions. GM officials have said for some time that they want affordable, production fuel-cell vehicles by 2010. But Lutz also told Automotive News that China may be a larger and earlier market for fuel cell vehicles because the country's nuclear plants can supply enough electricity to produce large quantities of hydrogen for fueling stations.

Over the next few days I'll continue my report from the Sequel drive with a brief history lesson on GM's recent fuel-cell efforts, driving impressions of the Sequel and a deeper look into the by-wire technology. I'll also have an in-depth interview with Byron McCormick, executive director of fuel cell activities at GM.

Next: Behind the Sequel's development

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