December 3, 2002

GM shows fuel cell prototype to journalists

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Hywire. Click image to enlarge

Monaco – More than 200 journalists from all over the world gathered in Monaco yesterday to test-drive General Motors’ HydroGen3 and Hy-wire fuel-cell prototype vehicles.

The GM Hy-wire is the world’s first driveable vehicle to combine fuel-cell propulsion with by-wire technology. It also incorporates the features first displayed in the AUTOnomy concept vehicle at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the Geneva Motor Show.

“All of the touring sedan’s propulsion and control systems are contained within an 11-inch-thick skateboard-like chassis, maximizing the interior space for five occupants and their cargo,” said Larry Burns, vice president of GM Research Development and Planning.
“There is no engine to see over, no pedals to operate – merely a single module called the driver control unit that is easily set to either a left or right driving position.”

The driver control unit, which allows steering, braking and other vehicle systems to be controlled electronically rather than mechanically, provides greater freedom for the driver.

“With by-wire technology, customers can have the option to operate the vehicle in a conventional way with foot pedals and a steering wheel, or through hand controls, as in the Hy-wire, which are similar to accelerating, braking and steering a motorcycle,” Burns said.

HydroGen3 demonstrates how fuel cell propulsion can be optimized for the existing automotive package. GM engineers and scientists have succeeded in dispensing with a number of components that were essential in the previous HydroGen1 version. The complete propulsion system has been packaged so efficiently that the full trunk capacity (600 litres or 22 cubic feet) of the five-seater Opel Zafira is fully available.

The electrical energy needed to operate the 60 kilowatt, 82 horsepower asynchronous three-phase engine is produced on board the HydroGen3 by a fuel-cell stack consisting of a total of 200 interconnected individual cells. With its virtually silent propulsion system, the HydroGen3 accelerates from zero to 100 in around 16 seconds

“The key to selling automobiles is to provide a vehicle that customers absolutely have to have,” said Burns. “We are driving to have compelling, affordable and sustainable fuel cell vehicles — vehicles that emit only water, reduce energy usage and create a pathway to renewable energy sources and fuels, by the end of the decade.”

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