On August 4, 2009 I asked out loud whether or not General Motor’s Project Driveway would survive regarding the 2nd largest automaker’s bankruptcy woes. I wondered this first because many times when a company is in financial trouble, future R&D programs without an immediate payoff get cut.
But, the recent signs have been positive for Project Driveway to continue. First, the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell has hit the 1 million mile mark over the past 25 months. GM claims that over 5,000 people have driven over 100 hydrogen SUV’s during this time period.
In fact, some people are starting to see hydrogen autos as mainstream instead of futuristic vehicles. According to BusinessWeek the first fuel cell test driver ever ran out of gas, “Test driver Laurie DeRoller learned that the hard way, stalling out five miles (eight kilometers) short of the filling station in Honeoye Falls during a weekend test drive in May. GM sent a flatbed to take it away.” Running out of gas in a fuel cell auto – what can be more mainstream than this besides getting a speeding ticket?
There is another positive sign that the Project Driveway program is still alive and kicking and this is the announcement of new drivers for the vehicle. At the beginning of the summer, when bankruptcy was in full swing, little activity was taking place with placing drivers in the Equinox Fuel Cell.
Now, however, new drivers have been announced who live in North Hollywood, Porter Ranch and Los Angeles, CA. On the East Coast, drivers in New York City and Dobbs Ferry have been announced. Near and in Washington DC drivers in Arlington, Oakton and Fairfax, VA have been announced along with one driver in DC.
So, once again GM is making noise with their Project Driveway program. At this point it is looking more like this hydrogen fuel cell endeavor will continue. And will any luck and some very hard work, GM will make the 2015 deadline that many other hydrogen auto makers are shooting for in regard to rolling out limited production vehicles for sale.