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GM Expects to Have Fuel-Cell Vehicles In Showrooms in Next Four to Nine Years

EIA’s projections for fuel-cell vehicle sales in the US through 2030. Units in thousands.

General Motors now expects to introduce hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles into dealerships in the next four to nine years, according to a report from Agence France Presse.

GM told AFP that it has made major steps toward developing a commercially-viable fuel cell vehicle, and that it expects it will be able to “equal or better gas engines in terms of cost, durability and performance” once it is able to ramp up volume to at least 500,000 vehicles a year.

That may take awhile even in an optimistic scenario. Projections by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration see a very slow ramp to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. The agency forecasts FCV sales beginning in 2009 (about 400 units) and increasing to 4,000 units for the year 2030. The agency anticipates a total of about 46,000 fuel-cell vehicles sold over the next 25 years.

In its projections, outlined as part of the Annual Energy Outlook 2006 (earlier post), the EIA sees substantial sales of fuel-cell vehicles in only three regions of the country: New England, the Middle Atlantic and the Pacific.

GM had worked with Toyota for a number of years on fuel-cell research and development. In the latest extension of its research partnership, announced Thursday, the two will no longer share fuel-cell research. The companies will continue their collaboration agreement for two more years with a focus on safety and congestion-related technologies, and industry codes and standards.

A GM spokesperson told AFP that “Because of the advances we made that type of technology [fuel cells] is passing from the research phase to development.”

Earlier this year, Honda announced that it would begin series production of a fuel-cell vehicle similar to its FCX Concept within three to four years. (Earlier post.)



In their dreams!

An Engineer

Nice. By the time Fuel Cell car sales reach 500,000 a year (what about the year 3500?) GM would be long bankrupt for spending their precious research dollars on such folly.

In unrelated news, Toyota is no longer funding such folly, and will no doubt be in an even stronger financial position, as a result.

Ron Fischer

On the chart in the year 2030 sales are 4,000 units a year. GM has said FC vehicles can match current cars when volume hits 500,000 units a year. This as much admits it's all a smokescreen.

What's fascinating is that, if this were really just a technical failure, the companies would probably just admit it and move on. However, since this is primarily a political failure they keep claiming everything is on track for reaching goals that keep receding into the future.

I agree: automaker fuel cell claims are nonsense. Truely sad and dishonest nonsense.

Hello McFly

How clueless are you guys? The folly is in the EIA projection. The key is all about codes and standards. Once hydrogen is authorized as a transport fuel in vehicles then the ramp up will come rather quickly.

Particularly with home refuelers like Honda/Plug are developing.

The key is codes and standards, not technology.

The government needs to give consumers choice. Plain and simple. If it's not our government, then it will be someone else's government and we can kiss the jobs created by a hydrogen economy goodbye.


I'm normally a hydrogen critic, but this acceleration of GM's schedule gives me pause. Hey, if they really do achieve "equal or better gas engines in terms of cost, durability and performance” what's not to like?

And nobody knows the ramp-up rate. Those are just projections based on projected car costs, projected fuel costs, and projected infrastructure build-out rates.

That's projections four levels deep ;-)

Let's see what they can do. Four to nine years isn't long for a wait and see.


You guys concentrate on the flawed EIA projection.

If hydrogen is authorized as a transport fuel through the development of appropriate codes and standards, then the market will ramp up much much quicker.

Fuel cell vehicles are fundamentally better automobiles.

The Honda FCX Concept delivers 100 KW of continous power...that's enough to power a small neighborhood! It provides 350 miles of range...that is the same as the Honda Accord V6! It gets 70 miles per kilogram in a full size spacious 4-door sedan! It emits zero emissions! You can provide remote off-grid power at a cabin, a picnic, a day at the beach! This offers the ability to fundamentally change the way consumers interact with their vehicles! They are also developing a home refueler that will provide hot water for a home, electricity for a home (great for power outages), and hydrogen fuel for the vehicle...all while saving the consumer 50% on energy costs and dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and virutally eliminating pollutant emmissions.


GM is not alone with this timeframe. Here are some other automotives that are also on board with similar timeframes.

GM 2010-2015:

DaimlerChrysler 2012-2015 (100,000 per year slide 13):

Honda 2009-2010:

Hyundai 2010:

Daewoo 2010:

SAIC before 2010:

Bill Ford

Ahh...gee...I may need to talk to marketing about the so called "Innovation" campaign we got going on.

Looks like Mary Ann Wright was right. I should have never let her go.

hampden wireless

Unless the hydrogen is made by nuclear power its just not going to happen in the amounts needed. I do like the idea of hydrogen if its not made from fossil fuels but that just dont seem practical today.


Hampden Wireless,

The Honda Home Energy station would replace a hot water heater that runs on natural gas. Natural gas is primarily methane and methane can come from all kinds of sources. For instance, the hydrogen required to power an average fuel cell vehicle for one day in the united states can be derived by processing the manure of 5 cows through an anaerboic digester. So 5 cows = 1 vehicle...100% renewable energy and clean.

Renewable energy can be achieved, the trick is merely to initiated the power switch.


But why Hydrogen? Why produce something, compress it, ship it, store it, pump it, then use it? Not to mention the infrastructure upgrades obviously required to support the aforementioned compression, shipping, storing and pumping.

Why not take whatever energy you were using to produce the H2 in the first place, create electricity and then transport that via the already existing power grid? I just don't understand why this is even a discussion, really.

Get yourself a nice bio-diesel powered plug-in hybrid, and you're good to go!


From Honda's web site. Makemelaugh. Where did you get those specs which are much better than shown here.

2005 Honda FCX Specifications

Name Honda FCX with Honda FC Stack
Number of occupants 4
Max. Speed 93 mph
Motor Max. Output 80kW (107 hp)
Max. Drive 272Nm (201 lb-ft)
Type AC synchronous electric motor (manufactured by Honda)
Fuel cell stack Type Honda Fuel Cell Stack PEMFC (Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell)
Output 86kW
Fuel Type Compressed hydrogen gas
Storage High-pressure hydrogen tank (5000 psi)
Capacity 3.75 kg 156.6 liters (change from liters)
Dimensions (L x W x H, mm) 4165 x 1760 x 1645
Energy storage Ultra capacitor (manufactured by Honda)
Vehicle range (EPA rated) 190 miles

The Honda FCX is the world's most advanced FCV in regular daily operation and the first hydrogen-powered FCV to be certified by CARB and the U.S. EPA, as a 2003 model in July 2002. Honda started fuel cell research in the 1980's and has been road testing vehicles in the United States and Japan since 1999.


Makemelaugh. Ignore previous post. I just noticed there's a previous Green Car congress post on this subject that tracks with your data. My bad.


Like electricity...hydrogen as an energy carrier delivers zero pollution and zero green house gases at it's point of use.

Like electricity...hydrogen as an energy carrier can be produced cleanly and 100% renewably if we choose to do so.

Unlike electricity...hydrogen can be stored in practical ways at low cost and need not be consumed seconds after production. Power plants must be scaled for peak power, meaning most of the time there is incredible amounts of excess wasted capital sitting around doing nothing.

Unlike electricity...sufficient hydrogen can be carried on board a fuel cell vehicle to provide 350 miles of range without sacrificing existing vehicle expectations (size, performance, torque, carrying capacity, heating, air conditioning, etc) the Honda FCX Concept.


Yes Tom (t),

Honda and others have made significant breakthroughs in fuel cell performance, durability, and hydrogen storage.

The new FCX Concept which Honda says will be the basis of the production model they deliver in 2009-2010 can be seen here:

That post also discusses the Home Energy Station (HES) they are developing with Plug Power. It runs off natural gas like many people already have piped to their home and would replace the hot water heater in the home. It would provide hot water, electricity for the home (even during hurricanes and blackouts), and fuel for the vehicle...while saving the consumer 50% on costs and dramatically reducing green house gases and pollution.


In addition to the HES that runs on natural gas, Honda also is working on a solar power version that works via electrolysis. This link describes both technologies...

Honda recently announced plans to produce thin-film solar that would obviously go quite nicely with their solar powered HES initiative.

An Engineer

"Unlike electricity...hydrogen can be stored in practical ways at low cost and need not be consumed seconds after production. Power plants must be scaled for peak power, meaning most of the time there is incredible amounts of excess wasted capital sitting around doing nothing."
That was a nice dream, wasn't it, Jim?

Tell you what, I know several fuels that are easier to store than hydrogen (and safer), cheaper and easier to transport (and safer): any liquid fuel, actually.

Let's put it this way: If you are going to produce a renewable fuel, would you produce hydrogen (a bitch to handle, transport and store, not to mention unsafe) or some liquid fuel (take your pick: ethanol, biodiesel or F-T diesel).

It's an obvious choice, once you think about it...

Robert Schwartz

GM wont make it four years let alone 9. They are CTD. they will be gone long before fuel cells are viable. GM should not buy green bananas.

Hampden Wireless

Yes. Wind, solar and nuclear to power batteries will end up being more practical and efficient then natural gas to hydrogen

The energy required to create hydrogen is just too high. Batteries will continue to get better faster then hydrogen will become 'more compressable'.


So, GM will be marketing a fuel cell vehicle soon. Uh-huh, sure. What other great news has the Easter Bunny brought? Did Santa Claus promise these cars will fly too? Boy oh boy, I can't wait to go joyriding nowhere in a flying fuel cell car!


" some liquid fuel (take your pick: ethanol, biodiesel or F-T diesel)"
Could you explain to me how you going to convert electricity into ethanol or biodiesel??
For interim solution bio-fuels should be used, but please don't bash on hydrogen, because it doesn't work yet. If they kill hydrogen now, we will never see what is it like not worring about polution.
As far as I know a lot new chemical engineers choose to work on hydrogen reaserch and they will make some breakthrough sooner or later.


The H2A costing models and case studies have been updated to version 1.0.10. These models have tremendous industry wide input and a very significant and stringent peer review process.

The new case studies can be found here:

Current Forecourt Hydrogen Production from Grid Electrolysis (1,500 kg/day) version 1.0.10
= $5.88/kg

Current Forecourt Hydrogen Production from Natural Gas (1,500 kg/day) version 1.0.10
= $3.49/kg

I'll utilize the forecourt models because it represents the easiest and most straight forward deployment model for a hydrogen economy. It would allow for easy deployment of the "lighthouse" approach proposed by Shell Hydrogen without having to make huge capital outlays. Each new H2 station can be setup individually utilizing existing natural gas and electricity capabilities without any need to create large centralized plants, new underground piping, or long distance transportation scenarios for hydrogen. If large capital investments are made in this infrastructure for centralized production then even better economics can come into play in the long run, but better economics are not necessary...they are just a bonus.

If we utilize Honda's best selling full size sedan, the Honda Accord, and Honda's newest innovative full size fuel cell sedan, the Honda FCX Concept, we can find out some pretty interesting things. The 2 vehicles have very similar dimensions...

Honda Accord V6
- 191.1 L / 57.3 H / 71.6 W
Honda FCX Concept
- 185.8 L / 56.3 H / 73.6 W

The 2 vehicles have very similar ranges...
Honda Accord V6
- 354 miles
Honda FCX Concept
- 350 miles

The 2 vehicles both have some pretty decent power on tap...
Honda Accord V6
- 244 hp
Honda FCX Concept
- 174 hp

The Honda FCX Concept does have less (but still adequate) horsepower, but that will be somewhat offset by quicker off the line acceleration from the near instantaneous peak torque available through the electric drive system versus the internal combustion engine which requires 5000 rpm before reaching peak torque. Additionally the low center of gravity on the Honda FCX Concept and the 4 wheel drive system with individually adjustable in wheel rear motors will provide maximum agility in handling. If this is not enough, then one can factor in the emission free nature of the Honda FCX Concept, the potential convenience of home refueling, the superior cabin volume, and the fact you can provide backup power for a small neighborhood.

Now lets utilize these vehicles and compare the fuel costs.

Fuel Price.............Tank Capacity..........Cost For 350(4) miles

$1.02/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$17.44
$1.72/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$29.41
$2.40/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$41.04
$3.00/gallon..........17.1 gallons..............$51.30

The price of gas must be $1.02/gallon to be price competitive with hydrogen from H2A forecourt reformed natural gas.

The price of gas must be $1.72/gallon to be price competitive with hydrogen from H2A forecourt electrolysis.

With today's gas prices of $2.40 per gallon, gasoline is 135% more expensive than hydrogen from reformed natural gas and 40% more expensive than hydrogen from electrolysis.

Source for Honda FCX Concept tank size, range, and other information:

Source for Honda Accord V6 tank size and range:


In the time fram given, shouldn't battery technology advance as well? Is storing elecricity in a battery more efficient than electrolyzing or reforming hydrogen and then reacting it with oxygen in a fuel cell?


H20 - since you are looking at fuel costs, don't you think you should add the Honda GX with home fueling at $1/gal?

Given that you are talking about reforming from natural gas, I think the cost (and maintenance/longevity) of the GS is a good reference.


Don't fight! the answer is obvious. Have both,Make the fuel cell with a long cord.Then when your riding down the road and you see a plug-in hybrid you can throw him the cord to plug in while riding down the road.

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