GM Chevrolet Announces Equinox Fuel Cell Vehicle; Commits to Launch 100-Vehicle Fleet in 2007

17 September 2006
 Equinox Fuel Cell Vehicle

General Motors announced its next-generation fuel-cell vehicle—the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell—and said it will begin building the world’s largest fuel cell vehicle fleet.

The company will build more than 100 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles and begin placing them with customers in the fall of 2007, as part of a comprehensive deployment plan dubbed “Project Driveway.” Project Driveway will place fuel cell vehicles with a variety of drivers in three geographic areas: California, the New York metropolitan area and Washington D.C. The project is designed to gain comprehensive data on all aspects of the customer experience.

uGeneral Motors is demonstrating its commitment to hydrogen fuel cells as the answer for taking the automobile out of the environmental debate and reducing our dependence on petroleum. The Equinox Fuel Cell is powered by GM’s most advanced fuel cell propulsion system to date, and demonstrates an important milestone on our pathway to automotive-competitive fuel cell propulsion technology development.

—Larry Burns, GM vice president, research & development and strategic planning

The Equinox Fuel Cell is powered by a fourth-generation, 93kW fuel-cell stack. The stack will operate in temperatures ranging from 13° F to +113° F (-25° C to +45° C).

Three carbon fiber fuel tanks store 4.2 kg (9.24 lb) of hydrogen at 700 bar (10,000 psi). A 35 kW NiMH battery pack supplements the fuel cell and captures energy from regenerative braking. The 3-phase asynchronous electric motor generates 73 kW of continuous power (94 kW maximum) and torque of 320 Nm (236 lb-ft).

The Equinox Fuel Cell accelerates from 0-60 mph in 12 seconds; has a top speed of 100 mph (160 kph); and has an operating range of 200 miles (320 km).

The Equinox is engineered for 50,000 miles of life, and is expected to meet all applicable 2007 US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. It also offers a number of standard safety features including driver and passenger frontal air bags and roof rail side-impact air bags; anti-lock braking system (ABS); StabiliTrak stability enhancement technology and OnStar.

The Equinox Fuel Cell is a real-world vehicle with real-world performance. The fuel cell technology is seamlessly integrated into a uniquely styled crossover vehicle that is distinctively Chevrolet. The Equinox Fuel Cell joins Chevrolet’s family of advanced gas-saving and alternative fuel vehicles.

These learnings [from Project Driveway] will directly influence future fuel cell vehicle generations and ultimate market acceptance. With Chevrolet being GM’s global volume brand, it makes sense that Chevy will lead GM’s fuel cell vehicle commercialization charge.

—Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager

Last week, GM announced it had developed a driveable version of its Sequel concept fuel-cell vehicle, which is now part of the Chevrolet brand.

They are nothing if not determined.

Most excellent. Now if I can make hydrogen from solar panels on my roof and it costs under $30k I am all set. I wonder what GM would say about an electric vehicle with a 50,000 mile lifespan. GM building a fuel cell vehicle? And one that sounds promising? We shall see what happens. If their fuel cell vehicles can deliver, GM could really give Toyota and Honda a run for their money. Is there any info on pricing? It will be fascinating to compare this with the Tesla. Both started with initial manufacturing runs of about 100 vehicles, though it seems Tesla will manufacture several hundred next year. The Tesla has longer range, greater life, better fueling infrastructure and much, much better acceleration. So, the only thing left is price. Any info out there? Is this another of those crush 'em at the end projects? like their electric car project that was underwritten with federal tax funding? Somehow, I can't take 'em serious when they claim innovation, especially when they still use pushrod engines. There has to be a catch or hidden agenda somewhere! Remember this isnt like the tesla this is more like the original elctric car tests done awhile back. The cells are enginnered to last at least 50k miles but they dont realy know for sure. As it only has a 4.2 kg tank cap and is a suv /car crossover im not shocked at the 200 mile range. I suspect the 5th gen fuel cell will have a much beter set of specs. And that by gen 6 the gen they realy expect to start going general sales with it should be well over 200k mile lifetime and prolly a 350 mile range. 3 carbon fiber tanks designed to hold that much price will probably be roughly the same price as the Tesla Roadster. Then the cost of 35kW-hr of batteries, electric motors and the fuel cell...I could see this easily costing double the price of the Tesla Roadster even though it already uses some mass produced parts (frame/chassis, suspension, etc) and the Tesla Roadster uses a much more limited run aluminum frame. On the other hand a Tesla roadster put into a Chevy Equinox body would probably give 2-3 second slower 0-60 times and maybe 2/3 to 1/2 the range of the Roadster but a lower price (by atleast$15,000 by foregoing the aluminum and high end limited run components off the Elise).

What a load of crap! Will GM be solvent in 2007?

If GM's EVs were too expensive, these aught to be WAY too expensive.

Price is the biggest hurdle to overcome, nothing else really matters to the average consumer.

You can count on these not being sold. If they see the light of day, they will be leased (ala EV-1).

It is very sad to see GM spending this money on something that really does not have an impact, because the Prius is already out there.

Correct me if I am wrong but a 35kw NiMh in a plug in Prius would give a range of 140 miles before the engine would come on.

Michael,
Sorry, (as you wished) this is a 35kw-power battery, and NOT 35kwh of battery capacity. The Prius has a 21kw NiMh battery and its battery-only range is but a few miles.

200mi range for only 4.2kg of H2, which is equivalent to but 4 US gallons of gasoline, this is pretty good for an SUV that looks somewhat larger than the Ford Escape hybrid capable of a lot lower fuel efficiency. If GM can manage eventually to mass-produced this thing for under \$50,000 USD, then they will have won the battle. Hoping that the General is having a few more tricks up his sleeve to make FCV a reality. Likewise, Honda will also be releasing a sporty FCV in 2008, so , FCV technology can't be too farfetched.

Meanwhile, I've read somewhere that H2 can be reformed from crude oil (and natural gas, and coal) for about the same efficiency and cost as gasoline. Due to the difficulty of transporting H2 long distance, crude oil can be transported to each city and be reformed into H2 locally...making FCV refueling cost effective.

Meanwhile, Toyota will also be releasing the next gen HEV Prius capable of ~90mpg... The battle between HEV and FCV is raging on. Ah, I can't hardly wait, the near future full of excitement!

Yup from what I can gleen it is an suv running at the equive of just under 50 mpg. Not bad for this stage of the game. And as some know the last gen fuel cell had only about a 10-20k range so we can expect some leaps with the next 2-3 gens.

Wintermane, this is a fifth generation fuel cell vehicle. Remember that the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to hit the road did so in the 1970's:

http://chem.ch.huji.ac.il/~eugeniik/history/kordesch.html

The biggest issue with this is the infrastructure required produce and distribute h2. Unless you are reforming h2 from some kind of fossil fuel it isn't very efficient. Any kind of hydrolysis would place major additional demands on fresh water supplies. If you think you can generate enough h2 at home with solar panels, think again, it will never produce enough.

Who is going to buy a car you can't guarantee to fill up and will only last 50,000 miles? An all EV vehicle is more practical or just go for a plug in hybrid.

Yes and no. See they have jumped 2 generations in just a few years because of course they have money. They were planning last I read 2-3 more generations before the 2015 deadline. Concidering how fast they went from gen 4 to 5 they likely will beat that goal.

"The biggest issue with this is the infrastructure required infrastructure...."

with that attitude, i'm shocked we even have cars...we would all still be riding horses...

why are folks comparing HEV w/ FCV. HEV does not remove our oil dependancy.

I think it all comes down to finding a way to fuel transportation without an unacceptable environmental impact or adding to our over-reliance on fossil fuels.

Hydrogen from fossil fuels is a non-starter--it shifts transportation energy consumption so it competes with other uses for fuels. That leaves electrolysis for hydrogen production.

Electricity from wind and solar is highly desirable, but if you want to rely on wind and solar, you have to use it as efficiently as possible because of the still small amount of installed capacity from those sources. And making hydrogen via electrolysis and then consuming it in a fuel cell is far less efficient, in terms of BTU's/mile driven, than is using that electricity to recharge a battery pack in an EV.

Frankly, I wish the US gov't would funnel a lot more money into EV's and a lot less into HFC's, as that's where I think we're headed anyway for personal transportation.

(See the Car Technologies Comparison spreadsheet on the downloads page of my site (click on my name below) for some specific numbers on hydrogen, EV's, etc.)

There are home PV systems of 4-5kw. That could produce enough hydrogen for most uses. But I would rather see them reform CNG or methanol on board. CNG comes right out of the pipe in your garage.

"with that attitude, i'm shocked we even have cars...we would all still be riding horses..."

Not at all, I just don't think fuel cells are the way forward for automotive applications. The former head of ABB fuel cell research and the european fuel cell council has publicly stated that they don't think hydrogen fuel cells have anything but a niche future. In fact, they have stopped active research into hydrogen cells and will concentrate on solid oxide cells for local power generation. The problem is the overhead of creating and storing hydrogen just doesn't make it worth the effort. Better to use the energy directly in a EV or plug-in type application.