Fleet News

GM and Toyota aim for affordability

GENERAL Motors has joined forces with Toyota in a bid to have a driveable volume fuel cell car on sale at an affordable price by 2004. GM and its subsidiaries Opel and Vauxhall, have a fuel cell team headed by a group in Germany which is leading research which will result in fuel cell zero-emission vehicles going into full production.

The work with Toyota is on research and development and will not result in joint vehicle projects, according to GM, which has launched a fuel cell vehicle based on the Vauxhall/Opel Zafira. Opel chairman and managing director Bob Hendry told a Frankfurt International Motor Show press conference that the fuel cell vehicle was 'the next generation of transportation'. Vehicle manufacturers are committed to a 25% reduction in their fleet average carbon dioxide emissions by 2008 and to achieve that goal fuel cell vehicles must be in the market place by 2004.

Hans Demant, executive director of the company's International Technical Development Centre, said the usability of fuel cell technology was being assessed in a roadgoing concept vehicle with a power output of 50kW. Nick Reilly, chairman and managing director of Vauxhall, told Fleet NewsNet that the launch of fuel cell vehicles in 2004 did not signal the immediate demise of gas-powered vehicles.

'We started to promote LPG vehicles in 1998 and that gives them at least a 10-year span and probably longer to build up a parc, which then lasts for 15 years. It may tail off when fuel cell vehicles become readily available but they will take a long time to build up, so it is worth the development and we are starting to get significant orders,' he said.

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