By on December 26, 2008

I mean, milestone. I mean, it would be petty and vindictive of me to suggest that Chevrolet’s Project Driveway program was/is an enormous waste of GM’s precious development money. If we are to have a hydrogen economy– and why wouldn’t we (other than the cost of rebuilding a trillion dollar-plus infrastructure from the ground up)– we’re going to need fuel cell vehicles to, uh, get around. So you can’t help but applaud the fact GM now has more than 100 hydrogen fuel cell Chevy Equinox on the road, which have logged a combined total of 500k miles. “The vehicles are performing very well and we are learning a great deal about fuel cell robustness and how to make this program work for real customers,” Marybeth Stanek, GM’s director of fuel cell commercialization, opines [via press release]. “The amount of data we’ve collected over the past year is very valuable to us, and gives us insight into this important automotive technology.” Yes, yes. What exactly have we learned? *crickets chirping* Hey! Jay Leno has one! Been driving it since April. Or, you know, parking it in one of his aircraft hangers.

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6 Comments on “Fuel Cell Chevy Equinox Reach “Important Millstone”...”


  • avatar
    Robert Frankfurter

    Worshipping a envisioned hydrogen economy means huddling the unaware public from one dependency (oil based) to another – less effective & more costlier one, but not (if you look in the fine print) necessarily greener one.

    Anyone familiar with calculation knows that not the (as portrait in the western media) ugly, aggressive, mean, always Halloween dressed oil-sheiks are the big winner in the oil business but the international companies trading and refining – they pocket (99%) of the profit. The sheiks are more or less helpless & stupid bystanders – taking here and there a marketing blow for their stupidity and stubborn religious fanatics (in religious dedication even worse then that one practiced today in the US bible belt). But basically all oil exporting nations, with a few exceptions, are (not limited to but) intellectual poor suckers in the hand of a comparable intelligent “protective” (read USA) very capable military force. Permanently stationed in, on US taxpayers cost driving or not, their own country.
    Think a second it would be the other way round. Arab military stationed permanently in bulk at Washington DC to protect the oil-buyers interest – but thats another story…

    To replace oil by hydrogen (using the same trading / distribution / sales chain net as for oil-based eco) is smearing a very costly lipstick on a pig. In fact the lipstick (hydrogen) costs in producing, transport or trading – besides it carries per weight about 30% less energy then petrol – manyfold of one of the pig. It would be wiser let the pig being pig (and the at daytime bed-cloth wearing Wahabis feed oil to their camels) and change the own diet ground-up. Go alternative on another path. How does the sun and spacelab work? – one flawless and free since aeons the other one nearly flawless and free (anyone seen a Spacelab energy bill?) since many years?
    This does not mean reduce everything to photovoltaic – there are many other including quite efficient chemical ways to directly convert solar energy to mankind usable one.

    Get it?
    This will / would of course also mean the end of the big oil business as we know it – a natural evolution (like going from candle to gaslight as streetlight putting the candle producers & traders in the poorhouse)- dwarfing in effect the fall of D3. There could be much wise products being made from oil instead of burning it in vehicles- like medicine and special plastics e.g.

    There is still hope
    But not for a hydrogen economy – that would be a massive failure.
    Only benefitting the oil-sharks ripping us off (only with another product at the same station) at any pump worldwide tomorrow and in all future.

  • avatar
    BMW325I

    Well firstly I have 0% trust in alternative fuels from GM/Ford/Chrysler. Seems like they went to a vinyl shop just yesterday and to the press the next day. Honda I can def. trust as they worked on this for years even when gas was under 2$ a gallon.

    @Robert Frankfurter

    Give it time when there is a demand. There should be a company that will make a hydrogen station for your car at home costing a fraction you would pay at the pump. I am still mad at the fact that the pumps in California are charging it the same amount as unleaded fuel. What kind of b.s. is that.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    I got the chance to put a few miles on one of these while attending the LA Auto Show in November. I was quite surprised how “normal” it felt in comparison to early hybrids and 100% electric vehicles I have driven. Now, if that same drivetrain was available in a Caddy CTS and priced around 40K, I might buy one. Sadly however the components are too big for anything buy limited CUV use at the moment.

    Some interesting things to note: The people that have the Equinox don’t pay for their hydrogen. GM does. Why? GM claimed that they have not figured out a way to bill for the hydrogen. Bull S—t. GM Doesn’t want anyone to know how much it really costs. The Shell station selling Hydrogen isn’t providing it out of the goodness of their hearts, they are just billing GM for the cost.

    As an aside, fuel cell or combustion hydrogen engine, Hydrogen is an excellent alternative fuel with just one little problem: the US power plants are far from clean. Unless we hop on nuclear power in a big way, there’s no way we’re going to be able to split enough water into hydrogen/oxygen to fuel any sort of major demand.

  • avatar
    tcwarnke

    @BMW325I:

    Why do you have no trust in GM/Ford/Chrysler for alt. fuel vehicles, but you do trust Honda? Your opinion of Honda seems to be based on perception more so than reality.

    IMO, GM having 100 vehicles on the roads for a year with a combined 500K miles as a major accomplishment. How many Honda FCX Clarity’s have been “leased” so far? (planned worldwide production of 200 units over 3 years)

  • avatar
    puppybite

    From my research a hydrogen vehicle is not the way to go. The energy (electricity) that is required to extract Hydrogen is 3 times less efficient than if electricity is directly stored in vehicles. A battery electric car. BEVs are already possible as proved by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Interestingly, the battery used in the 10 yr old RAV4 EV is not available since 2003 and is confined and held captive by a patent….by an oil company. Just Google the RAV4 NiMH battery to learn the details on this sad tale. There is hope, though, because china is now producing large format Lithium cells that may prove to be an ideal fit into an EV using a brand new safe nonexplosive LiFePO4 chemistry, so safe you can drive a nail into the battery w/o a fire as would have happened with past Lithium chemistry. China builds a 200 AH, 3.7V cell, so a battery pack can be made from just one series string of about 100 cells as opposed to the battery pack in the Tesla consisting of 6000 series parallel flashlight sized cells. The 200 AH large format cell still costs about $400 so we need to wait for mass production to bring the costs down, while hoping an oil company does not somehow interfere with this process, which seems unlikely given that the batteries are maturing in China, possibly immune to interference from interests in the West.

  • avatar
    Dutchchris

    The main thing one needs to understand in the whole hydrogen verses battery-electric vehicles is that 65% of the energy is wasted in the hydrogen cycle of generation, distribution, transformation in electricity in the fuelcell, whereas BEV’s are 90% efficient from battery to motor.

    So even if all the problems with hydrogen were solved (prohibitive cost of fuelcells, durability of fuel cells, generation, distribution,storage of hydrogen, range)society would still end up with a system that’s as inefficient as the old fashioned ICE system.

    Of course carmakers are well aware of the problems but from their viewpoint they are actually advantages. It means they can do their beloved ICE vehicles for decades to come, all the while protecting their green image by pointing towards their (often tax money funded) hydrogen programms. Very useful if you need a bailout too. BMW has been doing it for decades, which makes sense for a car maker which competitive edge depends heavily on it’s advanced ICE technology. Honda is a big fan of hydrogen for the same reason.


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