BEIJING -- General Motors introduced its Sequel fuel cell vehicle to Chinese journalists last week. It will be unveiled to the public at the Shanghai auto show in mid-April.
Fuel cells use hydrogen fuel to create zero-pollution electricity.
China likely will be the center for some aspects of fuel cell development, says Timothy Vail, the Detroit-based director of business development for GM's fuel cell activities.
"On the electrical side of the (fuel cell) equation, China could have a big influence," he says.
The Sequel uses electric motors at the wheels, and China is already a major manufacturer of electric motors for consumer products, Vail says. "That expertise is easily translated into wheel motors," he says.
The Chinese government is backing fuel cell development both financially and through policies that encourage development of alternative engines.
That could make China one of the early adopters of the technology, Vail says.
Some Chinese cities intend to build an infrastructure to support fuel cell vehicles. Beijing and Shanghai plan to build hydrogen refueling stations, says David Chen, general manager of GM's Beijing operations.
Still, the commercialization of fuel cell technology, which requires a huge reduction in the cost, is a long way off because fuel cells are still too expensive to produce.
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