General Motors' first mass-produced fuel cell vehicles will not arrive before the end of the decade, said GM spokesman Pete Barkey, denying reports from Japan that the target date had been moved up to 2008.
He said GM still plans to mass-produce fuel cell vehicles by 2010 at the earliest. The company's goal is not to be first to market with fuel cell vehicles, but to mass-produce those vehicles at a profit.
Toyota Motor Co. said last week it will lease 20 fuel cell vehicles to fleet operators this year. Other automakers plan to test their fuel cell vehicles by 2004.
But GM's strategy remains unchanged, Barkey said. GM will continue developing its gasoline reformer technology, start testing potential production fuel cell vehicles by 2008 and, if the market and fuel infrastructure is ready, start mass-producing fuel cell vehicles by 2010.
This year, GM introduced a working prototype of a fuel cell Chevrolet S10 pickup with a gasoline reformer in the bed. The reformer strips hydrogen from gasoline to power the fuel cell.
The S10's system differs from most other automakers' fuel cell vehicles, which require either liquid or gaseous hydrogen instead of gasoline. The S10 potentially would be more consumer-friendly because it could use the gasoline infrastructure, while other makers' vehicles would need hydrogen fueling stations. There are no commercial hydrogen fueling stations in the United States.
GM this year will demonstrate a working prototype of its AUTOnomy concept car unveiled in January at the Detroit auto show. The AUTOnomy is a fuel cell vehicle that has drive-by-wire technology and a flexible body style that allows the car to be changed for example, from a convertible to a sport-utility.