July 10, 2003

FedEx and GM launch fuel cell fleet in Japan

Tokyo, Japan – A FedEx Express (“FedEx”) driver made history Wednesday in Tokyo when he used General Motors’ HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle to deliver packages to a leading energy company and a major hotel.

Raymond Grigg, David J. Ross
Raymond Grigg (L), chairman and CEO, and representative director, General Motors Japan Ltd., and David J. Ross, vice president, North Pacific Region, FedEx, send off the HydroGen3 on its historic first delivery in Tokyo Wednesday, July 9, 2003. Click image to enlarge

With these deliveries, FedEx and GM officially launched the first commercial test of a fuel cell vehicle in Japan. Yesterday’s kick-off route included deliveries to Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. and Le Meridien Grand Pacific Hotel Tokyo.

The two companies are collaborating on a one-year test program in which FedEx will operate GM’s HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle on its regular delivery routes in the metropolitan area of Tokyo. GM will collect the data obtained to better understand how its fuel cell vehicles perform under demanding, real-world conditions like those FedEx faces daily in Tokyo. The vehicle will be operated in the Marunouchi and Kasumigaseki districts in downtown Tokyo.

“This is another key step toward true commercialization – when we can sell large numbers of fuel cell vehicles to consumers at prices they can afford and that also make sound financial sense for GM,” said Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development, and planning. “It’s really important to get fuel cell vehicles on the road in competitive business environments like the ones FedEx works in on the streets of Tokyo. They run a very successful global operation that demands reliability and durability.”

GM’s HydroGen3, which is based on the Zafira MPV, is the first fuel cell vehicle to be granted a “green” commercial license plate in Japan, and the first liquid hydrogen-fueled vehicle approved to drive on public roads in Japan. Additionally, HydroGen3’s 400 kilometre (250 mile) driving range is the highest of any fuel cell vehicle approved for public roads in Japan.
GM will collect data from FedEx on a daily basis, and will provide all vehicle engineering and maintenance.

The Zafira MPV based HydroGen3 was launched in 2001 and is GM’s first entry in the recently announced Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project, which is directed by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). GM will submit data from the FedEx operations as part of its participation in this project.

“Japan is a key area for GM in developing and positioning fuel cells for commercialization,” said Raymond Grigg, Chairman and CEO, Representative Director, General Motors Japan Ltd. “Today’s launch with FedEx is yet another example of GM’s global leadership in a variety of fuel cell technologies.”

FedEx Express driver piloting GM’s HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle delivers packages to Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. and the Meridien Grand Pacific Hotel, marking the first commercial use of a fuel cell vehicle in Japan. Click image to enlarge

GM recently announced a partnership with Shell Oil to provide hydrogen refueling for a fleet of GM HydroGen3s in Washington D.C. And in May, GM and Dow Chemical Company came to agreement on the world’s largest-ever fuel cell power deal.

GM’s global fleet of HydroGen3 vehicles offers significant advancements in packaging and technology that move GM closer to developing a production-ready fuel cell vehicle. The fuel cell propulsion system is integrated into one module, allowing the whole system to be installed as a single unit, using the same mounting points as a conventional engine. This frees up additional interior space, allowing for packaging similar to today’s production models.

Other important breakthroughs in the HydroGen3 include eliminating the need for a buffer battery – needed in previous generations to deal with specific peak-power demands – as well as developing an internal system for humidifying the fuel cell stack.

GM has approximately 600 people working on fuel cell technology at its three U.S. facilities in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., Warren, Mich. and Torrance Calif., as well as at its research facility in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, and offices in Tokyo.

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