DETROIT -- General Motors Co. is testing a new hydrogen fuel cell system that is expected to be ready for production in 2015.
The system is half the size of the one used in the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell test vehicle. Additionally, it is 220 pounds lighter and uses about one-third less platinum, GM said.
“The smaller size allows you to package it in any number of vehicles, from a sedan to a crossover,” even compacts, said GM spokesman Alan Adler in an interview.
By comparison, Adler said the fuel cell system used in the Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle is about the size of a large filing cabinet.
Adler did not say which vehicles will offer the technology in 2015. It is unlikely to be used in smaller vehicles, he said.
The announcement of the fuel cell system for a production vehicle was made Tuesday by Charles Freese, executive director of GM's global fuel cell activities. Freese held a news briefing on the automaker's fuel cell progress in Burbank, Calif.
GM has been testing Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles globally as part of its Project Driveway program. The initiative was set up in late 2007. So far, 1.3 million miles have been driven.
“Our learning from Project Driveway has been tremendous,” Freese said in a statement.
“The 30 months we committed to the demonstration are winding down. But we will keep upgrades of these vehicles running and will continue learning from them while we focus efforts on the production-intent program for 2015,” he said.
Freese said some of the 119 fuel cell electric vehicles in Project Driveway will receive hardware and software upgrades. They will become part of a demonstration program with the U.S. Department of Energy.
“We will continue to use the Project Driveway fleet strategically to advance fuel cell technology, hydrogen infrastructure and GM's vehicle electrification goals,” he said.
The first long-term loan of a new Chevrolet fuel cell vehicle was given to Stephanie White, a fuel cell advocate who was among the initial Project Driveway participants. Freese presented White with the keys to the car on Tuesday.