May 8, 2003

GM launches Washington fuel cell fleet

Washington, D.C. – General Motors launched its Washington-based fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles on Wednesday. GM’s Washington fuel cell preview program will initially run for two years and could provide up to 10,000 test drives to legislators, regulators, environmentalists and other policy makers.

“Fuel cells give us an opportunity to re-invent the automobile and remove cars and trucks from the energy and environmental debate,” said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner . “The Washington preview fleet will help us show policy makers and opinion leaders the rapid progress that is being made in the development of this important technology.”

GM has already invested more than U.S.$1 billion towards its goal of having a commercially viable fuel cell vehicle ready for the market by the end of the current decade. The company’s longer-term objective is to be the first company to sell one million fuel cell vehicles.

The Washington fuel cell preview program also features the nation’s first hydrogen pump at a Shell retail gas station to support GM’s fleet of fuel cell vehicles. That station will open later this year.

“The operation of the fleet and the hydrogen station will give policymakers, regulators and the general public an increased awareness and understanding of the issues involved with a transition to a hydrogen economy,” said Wagoner. “We also will learn valuable lessons about fueling and vehicle performance under real world conditions.”

GM is pursuing a three-stage technology strategy to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions while still meeting its customers’ transportation needs. In the near term, GM is enhancing its convention vehicles with technology that includes displacement on demand cylinder deactivation and continuously variable transmissions. GM also has announced roll out plans for an aggressive lineup of hybrid cars and trucks set to begin later this year with hybrid-electric versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full size pickup trucks. These technologies will pave the way for the introduction of production fuel cell vehicles near the end of this decade.

Fuel cells use an electrochemical reaction that uses hydrogen and oxygen from air to create electricity to move a vehicle. The HydroGen3 is based on GM’s Opel Zafira minivan and is powered by a 94-kilowatt fuel cell stack and has enough power to reach 100 miles per hour with crisp acceleration.

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