Frankfurt Preview: General Motors HydroGen4

Click the cutaway for high-res images of the HydroGen4

The General Motors HydrogGen4 will be making its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week prior to being the European representative in Project Driveway. Project Driveway is the largest fuel cell vehicle field test in the world to date and it will involve GM putting vehicles into the hands of regular customers to drive. The HydroGen4 is a re-badged version of the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell that was shown in the US in prototype form last fall.

Project Driveway will launch in the US this fall and total of 100 Equinoxes will be included in the fleet. Ten of the HydroGen4 models will be made available for testing in partnership with the Clean Energy Partnership in Berlin, Germany. The name comes from the fact that the vehicle is powered by the fourth generation of GM's fuel cell technology. This is a follow-up to the Opel Zafira based HydroGen3 and it uses compressed hydrogen gas pressurized to 10,000 PSI.

[Source: General Motors]
First Large-Scale Test in Everyday Conditions for GM HydroGen4

Second phase of Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) with hydrogen cars

As a member in the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) in Berlin, General Motors will take part in the second phase of the hydrogen vehicle demonstration program in 2008 with a total of ten HydroGen4 cars. The fourth generation of GM fuel cell vehicles will have to prove itself in everyday traffic on a daily basis, just like the predecessor HydroGen3, which has been operating as a customer service vehicle in Berlin since June 2005 in cooperation with the Swedish furniture chain Ikea.

The start of the more extensive second phase of CEP requires the two Berlin hydrogen refueling stations to be modified to be able to refuel the GM HydroGen4 with gaseous hydrogen at 700 bar. The vehicles will operate within the framework by the National Innovations Program: hydrogen and fuel cell technology (NIP). Based on a national development plan designed with the industry, the German government will allocate a total of 500 million euros of public funds to this program over a period of ten years. The aim is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy supply. As an energy carrier with a neutral climate impact, hydrogen has been identified as one of the key elements in the supply of energy in the future. Fuel cells are considered because of their highly efficient technology.

In a joint position paper in September 2006, leading automobile and energy firms agreed on a three-stage plan toward establishing a hydrogen infrastructure and on the
commercialization of hydrogen vehicles:

Phase One (until 2010): technology development and cost reduction
Phase Two (from 2010 until around 2015): pre-competitive enhancement of the technology and preparation of market launch
Phase Three (from around 2015): Commercialization

The companies involved with the position paper consider it necessary to bring together the hydrogen vehicles available in Europe into one pilot region in the coming years. Only then can the required knowledge about the interaction between vehicles and infrastructure be gathered and implemented in an effective manner. Berlin was chosen as the site for this first European "Lighthouse" demonstration project for passenger cars and city buses as the city meets the special technical, legal and political conditions.

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