DETROIT -- General Motors and Hawaii's The Gas Company plan to create an infrastructure of hydrogen refueling stations to support a test fleet of GM fuel cell vehicles.
GM said the pilot program will be based on the island of Oahu and will consist of fewer than 50 vehicles. The first vehicle already is in operation.
“We do believe that there isn't a single silver bullet propulsion technology,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM global fuel cell activities.
“Fuel cells must be part of the solution to meeting the reduction of petroleum as well as greenhouse gas emissions in the future” in addition to hybrids, plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt and battery electric vehicles, he said.
Freese spoke during an online press conference today.
Hawaii is motivated to support fuel cell vehicles because it depends on petroleum for about 90 percent of its energy, he said. GM expects to begin selling fuel cell vehicles in 2015.
Fuel cells are more likely to offered in large vehicles. A slide presentation during the press conference showed a bus, pickup truck and a Class 8 tractor-trailer as likely vehicles for a fuel cell application. Small vehicles in the future were pictured as more likely of being battery-electric vehicles.
The Gas Company plans to tap into its 1,000-mile utility pipeline system, separate the hydrogen and sell the gas to local gasoline stations. The cost to add hydrogen fueling equipment is expected to be $300,000 to $500,000 per pump.
While the cost to refuel a hydrogen-powered vehicle was not announced, the intent is to achieve prices people can afford.
Speaking at the press conference, Jeffrey Kissel, CEO of The Gas Company, said “our vision is a gas infrastructure providing essentially the same cost per mile and driving experience… comparable to conventional vehicles we have on the road today.”
GM expects its fuel cell vehicles to have a 300-mile range. Refueling will take about three minutes.