"Project Driveway": GM launches largest ever fuel-cell fleet

General Motors yesterday unveiled plans for "Project Driveway", a field market research project that will place 100 hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles with customers across the United States. A diverse cross-section of customers with varied driving environments will be chosen to participate in California, New York and DC, with a target for delivery in fall 2007.

The fuel-cell vehicles are based on the Chevy Equinox crossover, and aside from the alternative powertrain, include all the usual features.

Hydrogen power is a significant development in that its only emissions are given off in the form of pure water. One significant problem this poses in cold-weather climates is that the "exhaust water" freezes, making this solution a bit problematic when the thermometer dips below freezing. But GM claims that its Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle will operate in cold climates. The development, manufacturing and testing of the vehicles is taking place at three GM facilities in the Canadian province of Ontario, so they had better work or they'll never make it out of the factory.

(Read the complete press release after the jump)

[Source: GM via AutoblogGreen]

Chevrolet To Launch World's Largest Fuel Cell Vehicle Fleet
More Than 100 to Debut in 2007 in First Meaningful Market Test of Fuel Cell Vehicles

SAN DIEGO – General Motors committed to building the world's largest fuel cell vehicle fleet today by announcing its next-generation fuel cell vehicle – the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell.

GM will build more than 100 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles and will begin placing them with customers in the fall of 2007, as part of a comprehensive deployment plan dubbed "Project Driveway." Designed to gain comprehensive learnings on all aspects of the customer experience, Project Driveway constitutes the first meaningful market test of fuel cell vehicles anywhere. A variety of drivers – in differing driving environments – will operate these vehicles and refuel with hydrogen in three geographic areas: California, the New York metropolitan area and Washington D.C.

"General Motors 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," said Larry Burns, GM vice president, research & development and strategic planning. "The Equinox Fuel Cell is powered by GM's most advanced fuel cell propulsion system to date, and demonstrates an important milestone on our pathway to automotive-competitive fuel cell propulsion technology development."

Enabled by GM's fourth-generation fuel cell propulsion system, the Equinox Fuel Cell is a fully-functional crossover vehicle, engineered for 50,000 miles of life. Importantly, the Equinox Fuel Cell is able to start and operate in sub-freezing temperatures during its 50,000-mile life. It is expected to meet all applicable 2007 U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and is equipped with a long list of standard safety features including driver and passenger frontal air bags and roof rail side-impact air bags; anti-lock braking system (ABS); StabiliTrak stability enhancement technology and OnStar, while providing all of the environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

"The Equinox Fuel Cell is a real-world vehicle with real-world performance," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "The fuel cell technology is seamlessly integrated into a uniquely styled crossover vehicle that is distinctively Chevrolet. The Equinox Fuel Cell joins Chevrolet's family of advanced gas-saving and alternative fuel vehicles."

The Project Driveway market test will provide comprehensive insight into all aspects of the customer experience, including reaction to the exciting, smooth and quiet performance of a fuel cell vehicle, and refueling with clean hydrogen gas. "These learnings will directly influence future fuel cell vehicle generations and ultimate market acceptance," Peper said. "With Chevrolet being GM's global volume brand, it makes sense that Chevy will lead GM's fuel cell vehicle commercialization charge."

About 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.

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