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GM's Fuel Cell or Fuel Sell Car

GM's Fuel Cell or Fuel Sell Car

GM's Chevrolet Volt fuel cell car puts a fuel cell in to power the generator. No exhaust emissions, but the hydrogen comes from gas.

October 29, 2007 —

GM’s new fuel cell car—an incarnation of the Chevrolet Volt—got some Tesla buzz when it was first displayed in Shanghai, China in the spring of this year. GM engineers got out their tinkering tools and put a fuel cell in the car to serve as the generator, swapping out the gasoline or ethanol generator in the January 2007 edition of the car.

The car is one of GM’s electric cars that are plug-in-ready for a percentage of their power. The car certainly looks cool and has that sense of nouveau eco-chic. But the car is not a full fuel cell car (its powertrain powered by a fuel cell). It is an electric car with an electric motor and has a fuel cell to power its generator. The fuel cell makes the car pretty darn expensive, and you have to carry hydrogen on board for the fuel cell. That hydrogen comes from hydrocarbons (gas) being broken down to produce pure hydrogen. So, one way or the other, this car is still adding to pollution—though it has zero emissions out of the tail pipe.

Observers say the fuel cell Chevrolet Volt will cost a lot more than the version that has a gas generator, and this may inhibit potential purchasers. There is also the sad fact that in 2004 GM forcibly ended the leases on all its EV1 electric cars. These cars were very popular with their owners. GM simply announced they were collecting them all up, with no option to buy them. The leasers were furious, but there was nothing they could do.

If you’re thinking of opting up to this new version of the Chevrolet Volt, take a hard look at the purchasing options. If you lease you might expect GM to show up with a tow truck one day.

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