After a succession of concept hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, GM has announced that it is to produce and deploy a fleet of 100 fuel-cell cars designed for use in the real world. Based on the gasoline-powered Chevrolet Equinox, the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell will run entirely on compressed hydrogen and will begin hitting the road in trials starting September 2007.
The zero-emissions Equinox Fuel Cell will come with a range of safety features found on other GM cars, including driver and front passenger airbags, ABS, traction control, and GM's OnStar telematics service, which will offer drivers advice on operating the cars as well as information on nearby hydrogen filling stations. The car is expected to meet all 2007 federal safety standards.
The most ostentatious feature in the Equinox Fuel Cell is a graphic that lets drivers know how much gas they have saved relative to the same mileage in the V-6 gasoline Chevy Equinox. The instrument panel will also feature a kW meter and a fuel-cell energy display.
All power for the car is generated via a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack powered by the hydrogen fuel cell and regenerative braking. Due to the heat created by the fuel cell and electric motors, the car has air intakes for cooling at the front and rear, as well as additional radiators in the front wheel housings.
While its propulsion system relies on advanced fuel-cell technology, the Equinox Fuel Cell retains conventional suspension and braking systems. Front independent struts and rear multilink suspension with special tuning for springs and dampers handle the Fuel Cell Equinox's increased weight. The car's four-wheel disc brakes incorporate friction brake blending to help to maximize the energy recaptured through regenerative braking.
According to GM engineers, the Equinox Fuel Cell can be refueled in less than five minutes. Three carbon-fiber fuel tanks storing up to a maximum of 4.2kg of gaseous hydrogen at 10,000psi will give the car a range of 200 miles.
The Equinox Fuel Cell will use the same fourth-generation hydrogen technology found in the Chevrolet Sequel concept, which was unveiled earlier in September. The Equinox fuel cell is designed for only 50,000 miles of driving, but is engineered to be operable in subfreezing temperatures throughout its life.
According to GM, the fuel-cell Equinox is about 500 pounds heavier than its gasoline-powered equivalent model and has roughly one inch less ground clearance. To keep off extra weight, the Equinox Fuel Cell features an aluminum door and a carbon-fiber hood.