For "Project Driveway," General Motors unleashed a fleet of 100 Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell cars this month on the streets of New York City, Washington and Los Angeles, all of which will be driven by ordinary people, average families and a few celebrities.
"No petroleum whatsoever is used to power Equinox Fuel Cell," Chevrolet said. "With hydrogen as the fuel, Equinox Fuel Cell emits only water vapor through vents in the rear fascia. That means zero tailpipe emissions. This helps remove the automobile from the environmental debate and reduce our dependence on petroleum."
The families participating in Project Driveway volunteered to test drive the new fuel cell SUV for the next three months, their only requirement to report on the experience; everything else, including fuel for electricity, will be covered. The three cities are the only ones with hydrogen refueling stations in North America at the moment.
"These families volunteered to be part of something big," Chevrolet's general manager, Ed Peper said. "They care about the environment, and they want to help solve our nation's energy issues. They are pioneers, and we are pleased they have joined our team.
"Drivers will provide regular, candied feedback about their use of the vehicle in their daily lives, the vehicle's performance and their personal preferences, which is key in defining our product and market introduction plans for fuel cell electric vehicles."
GM Powertrain VP Dan Hancock said added that it will play an integral role of future vehicle production.
"With Project Driveway, GM is demonstrating its commitment to electrically driven vehicles - whether the source of the electricity come from a lithium-ion battery or a hydrogen fuel cell - as the answer for helping take the automobile out of the environmental debate and reducing our dependence on petroleum," said Hancock. "The Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicle demonstrates an important milestone on our pathway to electrically driven vehicle development."
One piece of feedback likely to come from Project Driveway participants is that the vehicles don't drive very fast (0-60 m.p.h in 12 seconds), but being silent and eco-friendly has to have some kind of price. The Equinox is powered by lithium-ion batteries and fuel-cell stacks which last for 50,000 mile journeys.
The Chevy Volt is another GM project, but isn't expected to become publicly available until 2010.