General Motors has begun its latest and most extensive round of zero-emissions vehicle testing in Europe by introducing a fleet of 10 HydroGen4 fuel cell vehicles into service in Berlin, Germany. An Opel branded variation on the newest Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), these super-clean SUVs share the same E-Flex platform hardware that matches GM's latest hydrogen-powered fuel cell stack with a 73-kilowatt (98-horsepower) electric motor. That pairing allows the HydroGen4 to reach 60 mph in about 12 seconds, top out near 100 mph and travel 320 kilometers (about 200 miles) on a single tank of hydrogen. The new package also offers superior cold-weather capabilities, including the ability to operate in sub-zero temperatures. While Berlin's two existing hydrogen stations are being modified to meet the HydroGen4's rather lofty 700 bar (10,500 psi) refueling pressure requirements, all other necessary service on these vehicles will be done at specified Opel dealers within in the city.
Nine firms, including the German Road Patrol ADAC, Allianz Insurance, Coca-Cola, Hilton Hotels, Linde AG, Axel Springer AG, Schindler, TOTAL and Veolia will be evaluating these fourth-generation GM fuel cell vehicles in a real-world road test being conducted under the umbrella of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP). The CEP is a German Federal Department for Transport, Building and Urban Development project that is focused on proving the day-to-day suitability of hydrogen as a fuel for road transport. The overall operations will fall within the framework of the National Innovations Program (NIP), as part of a larger package that will receive a total of 500 million euros in public funding during the next decade.
Previously, GM has gathered information about its European fuel-cell program from a Berlin-based fleet of HydroGen3 vehicles that served as customer service transporters for IKEA. To date, General Motors has racked up nearly 435,000 total test miles on its zero-emissions FCEV fleets around the globe, the majority here in America under the Project Driveway banner. Currently, they're preparing to go active on a new fuel cell program in China that will see Chevrolet Equinox FCEV's tour the county in 2009 to demonstrate the potential of this green technology to the world's largest potential auto market.