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GM Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the streets in Europe

Nine companies will be the first to operate GM’s HydroGen4 zero-emission vehicles in the Berlin area as they go about their day-to-day business.

ADAC, Allianz, Coca Cola, Hilton, Linde, Schindler, Axel Springer, Total and Veolia will take part in the biggest ever European test programme for fuel cell vehicles.

This real-world road test will run under the umbrella of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), a German Federal Department for Transport, Building and Urban Development funded project focused on proving the day-to-day suitability of hydrogen as a fuel for road transport.

“We are delighted that these high profile business partners have joined us as we take zero emission fuel cell technology forward with the HydroGen4 programme,” said GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster.

As an integral part of GM’s overall advanced technology strategy towards further electrification of the car, this fourth generation fuel cell vehicle is the culmination of more than 10 years development work with hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

The HydroGen4 features improvements in everyday usability, such as performance and durability. Globally, GM deploys more than 100 vehicles of this type in its Project Driveway testing programme in the U.S., Japan, Korea, China, and Germany.

In the U.S., more than 100,000 people have applied as mainstream drivers for the market test. To date, 3,400 people have driven the vehicles and 30 families have used the vehicle on a daily basis over a period of around three months. In total, the vehicles were driven almost 435,000 miles. Feedback from these demonstration activities not only gives GM engineers essential validation data, but also provides a valuable insight into the likely ownership and driving experience of future customers.

The vehicles are equipped with a wireless data transfer system that assists engineers by uploading vehicle performance data to a company server. Maintenance of the vehicles deployed in Berlin will be done at a regular Opel dealer equipped with the personnel and tools necessary for servicing fuel cell vehicles.

HydroGen4’s fuel cell stack uses 440 single cells which combine hydrogen and oxygen from the air to produce electricity, with water vapour as the only by-product, and therefore zero emissions. The fuel cell stack provides the electric energy for the 73kW-synchronous electric motor, delivering acceleration of 0-62mph in around 12 seconds and a top speed of 100mph.

The electric motor’s instant torque characteristics also give the vehicle an excellent pick-up from low speed. The HydroGen4 is fitted with a 1.8 kWh buffer battery to store energy from the vehicle’s regenerative braking system and cover peak electrical loads. The three carbon-fibre composite tanks hold 4.2 kg of hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bars, sufficient for an operating range of up to 320 kilometres.

HydroGen4 can start and run in sub-zero temperatures, a considerable advance over the previous generation technology and an important benefit for everyday usability. It is designed to be as safe as conventional vehicles and includes unique hydrogen safety features in each of its major systems.