Yesterday, I was able to catch up with Rob Peterson, Manager of GM Fuel Cell Communications. Rob was kind enough to clarify some issues surrounding the General Motors rollout of the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell SUV next year.
Here’s the interview:
Hydro Kevin (HK): How does the powertrain on the Equinox fuel cell differ from that on the GM Sequel concept?
Rob Peterson (RP): The Equinox Fuel Cell and the GM Sequel Concept share the same propulsion system, GM’s fourth generation fuel cell. Aside from the fuel cell, though, the Equinox Fuel Cell is very close to the current production Equinox.
HK: Is the Equinox a hybrid auto as well as a hydrogen vehicle?
RP: No, it’s a pure fuel cell vehicle. It uses a high-tech battery but is not a hybrid.
HK: Will these vehicles be leased, sold or how will they be distributed?
RP: The details haven’t been worked out yet. We’re trying to establish consumer engagement now.
HK: Who will be the drivers of these vehicles and what is the criteria for someone to drive an Equinox Fuel Cell?
RP: Really, what we’re looking for is real people across all walks of life. From soccer moms to fire fighters to schoolteachers, we’re trying to gather marketing data from as wide of range of consumers as possible. There may even be a celebrity component as well, but most of the drivers will be regular people.
HK: Is General Motors of Canada in Oshawa, Ontario producing all 100 of the vehicles?
RP: Yes, the production version of the current Equinox comes from the Oshawa plant and so the final vehicle assembly of the Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle will be in Oshawa as well. The fuel cell assembly, however, will take place in Rochester, New York.
HK: Since California has more hydrogen fueling stations in place, 23, to the other regions’ 3 stations, will more vehicles be shipped to California?
RP: Yes, 60 or more vehicles will be shipped to California.
HK: Who is manufacturing the fuel cell for GM?
RP: GM has developed and is manufacturing the fuel cell in-house.
HK: Was this announcement or the timing of this announcement any way connected to BMW’s announcement last week of introducing their hydrogen autos in 2007?
RP: No, that was just coincidental. Both announcements did create a lot of interest, though, and what many people don’t realize is that we’re trying to change a culture, not just bring out new automobiles.
HK: Yes, I agree that hydrogen autos are just part of the bigger picture of ushering in a new hydrogen economy. Now just one question about GM developing a home hydrogen fueling station. Does this station use electrolysis to generate hydrogen?
RP: Yes, this unit has an electrolyzer and can generate hydrogen from water using solar power or you can plug it into your wall outlet and use electrical current to do the same thing.
HK: Thank you for your time.
RP: No problem, anytime.