General Motors, while downsizing its company in general, has decided also to downsize its next generation of fuel cell system by 220 pounds. The 5th generation fuel cell stack, GM says will be ready for prime time (production status) by 2015, which is the same time frame several other hydrogen auto manufacturers have given for production rollout of their fuel cell vehicles.
GM says the size of the new fuel cell powertrain that is in development will fit underneath the hood and be about the size of a 4-cylinder engine. The current generation of fuel cell stack is only rated for 50,000 miles of use, so presumably, the higher durability of the new gen fuel cell stack will be at least 150,000 miles and hopefully 200,000 miles or higher.
Reducing costs and simplifying the manufacturing process are also top on GM’s agenda in getting the new gen fuel cell powertrain ready for production. Also, presumably many of these 2015 General Motors FCVs will be headed for Germany.
Two weeks ago I had talked about how 8 major companies in Germany (through the H2 Mobility Plan) were gearing up to have 1,000 hydrogen fueling stations installed in that country by 2015. Japan has also decided to quickly scale up its hydrogen highway network of H2 fueling stations as well.
According to GM’s Project Driveway, so far over 1,000,000 miles have been put on the Chevy Equinox FCVs and that number continues to climb. So far, GM says it has invested over $1.5 billion in fuel cell technology, so if they have to export their vehicles overseas starting 2015 (or perhaps set up production there as well) this is something that GM is quite willing to do.