Writing in GM’s FastLane Blog, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz outlined the company’s roll-out plans for the newly announced Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle. The purpose of the 100-plus fleet (earlier post) is to demonstrate the basic capabilities of the system and to raise national awareness.
If progress continues on the cost-target side, Lutz expects the next step to be a 1,000-unit fleet in the 2010-2012 time frame. GM’s goal is to be the first manufacturer to put 1 million fuel cell vehicles on the road—profitably—globally. But, he noted, GM is not just rolling down the hydrogen highway to the exclusion of other advanced electric drive technologies.
The key word there is “global.” Like I said last week, China may be better equipped to switch to the hydrogen economy than the US, since they’re significantly less developed and would have a far easier time of it. To really get the ball rolling in the US, automakers, suppliers, government and the energy companies have to work together and work quickly. There’s simply no other way.
Let it also be known that we’re not putting all of our eggs in the hydrogen basket. It’s going to take time to make the hydrogen economy a reality, and we have several other alternatives in the works in the meantime, beginning with the expansion of our E85 offerings, and the expansion of our hybrid lineup, as you know. That will be highlighted by the addition of our two-mode hybrid full-size SUVs next year.
We are also studying plug-in hybrids, and will have more to say about those soon. The whole key there is the development of significantly improved battery technology. But rest assured I truly believe that electric-drive vehicles have a real future in this country and around the world; the only question is the nature of the power source or sources.
We’ll have architectures that will be flexible enough to accommodate a number of different sources. And yes, believe it or not, this really is Bob Lutz talking! We are sitting on the cusp of an explosion of new technology that will change the automotive industry like nothing since its very invention. I never would’ve believed it, but I must say I’m excited to be a part of it.—Bob Lutz on FastLane
Among the products GM is showing at the Paris Auto Show that begins today is the Saab Bio-Power Hybrid Concept—an E100 flex-fuel vehicle that incorporates the GM two-mode hybrid transmission and reportedly has plug-in battery capabilities. (Earlier post.)
(A hat-tip to Felix Kramer and CalCars!)