December 18, 2002
GM and FedEx test fuel cell vehicle in Japan
Tokyo, Japan – General Motors and Federal Express Corporation have announced a joint program to conduct the first commercial test of a fuel cell vehicle in Japan.
FedEx Express will participate in GM’s HydroGen3 fuel cell testing program for one year by operating the HydroGen3 on its normal delivery schedules in the Tokyo area from June 2003 to June 2004. GM’s HydroGen3 is the first fuel cell vehicle fueled with hydrogen to run on public roads in Japan.
GM will collect and analyze the data gained from the FedEx Express operation to determine how its fuel cell vehicles operate under demanding, real-world commercial driving conditions. GM will contribute these results as part of its participation in the Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project.
“To really prove that fuel cell vehicles are equal to or better than conventional, internal combustion vehicles, you need to operate them under tough, every-day conditions,” said Raymond Grigg, Chairman and CEO, Representative Director, General Motors Japan Ltd. “Our fuel cell technology has advanced to the point where it’s important to involve a real heavy-duty commercial user in our research and development activities. We expect to learn a lot by having FedEx Express put our HydroGen3 to the test on their daily delivery runs on the streets of Tokyo. This is how you truly prove durability and dependability.”
HydroGen3, based on the Zafira MPV, is GM’s first entry in the recently announced Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project, which is being directed by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
The JHFC Demonstration Program will begin full-scale operations in March 2003, and FedEx Express will begin operating the HydroGen3 in and around the Marunouchi area of Tokyo a few months later. Under terms of the recently signed memorandum of understanding between the two companies, GM will collect data from FedEx Express, and will provide all vehicle engineering and maintenance.
The HydroGen3 – with a range of 400 kilometers (250 miles) and a top speed of 160 km (100 miles per hour) – has several advances in technology and packaging compared to its predecessors. Some of the improvements include eliminating the need for a buffer battery – needed in previous generations to deal with specific peak-power demands – as well as an internal system for humidifying the fuel cell stack. HydroGen3’s packaging and technology innovations move GM another step closer to developing a production-ready vehicle.
GM has approximately 600 people working on fuel cell technology at its three U.S. facilities in Honeoye Falls, New York, Warren, Michigan and Torrance California, as well as at its research facility in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, and offices in Tokyo.