In 2007, General Motors launched their Project Driveway program with the help of the Gongos Research group. Project Driveway is both a technical and marketing research effort on the part of GM.
The idea is to rollout 100 Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell SUVs to average consumers living in zip codes close to hydrogen fueling stations.
Or, in other words, consumers lucky enough to live in Los Angeles and Orange County, California, New York and Washington DC can sign up to be part of Project Driveway.
Not all individuals selected for the Project Driveway program will get to drive a Chevy Equinox FC for 2 or 3 months. Part of the criteria is how active they are on the Gongos message board and that they be enthusiastic evangelists for the product.
In addition, Project Driveway participants are expected to report problems to engineers that will help GM improve the product. Also, participants will interact with one another online, at specific events and interact with engineers on the message board. The marketing end of the Project Driveway programs involves participants giving their opinion on the Gongos message board to specific inquiries.
Project Driveway is the first large scale consumer test for hydrogen fuel cell autos with real drivers operating the vehicle under real world conditions. General Motors, like the other major automakers, have stated they intended to rollout a large number of hydrogen powered vehicles in the year 2015.
The countries for the rollout will likely include Germany, Japan and the United States.
As of March 2010, their have been five auto crashes by Project Driveway members in the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell and no one has been injured. As of April 2010, MBA marketing students at the University at Buffalo School of Management have been asked to assist GM with a marketing plan for the vehicles.
September 2010 update: Project Driveway has moved their Gongos message board to Facebook where you can interest with other Project Driveway members and General Motors directory. Here is a link to the page (you have to logon first or you can logon and then do a search for GM Project Driveway to be taken to the page).
Written by Hydro Kevin Kantola