GM: Honey I Shrunk the Fuel Cell

It wasn’t that many years ago that we had the opportunity to drive a GM fuel cell vehicle around a parking lot in upstate New York.

It wasn’t that many years ago that we had the opportunity to drive a GM fuel cell vehicle around a parking lot in upstate New York. One thing about it: It filled the bed of a pickup truck. While it might have been energy-efficient, green, and all the rest, it wasn’t exactly a practical solution.

Today they’ve announced that they’ve managed to develop a system—that could be ready for production by 2015, which in the world of powertrains is essentially a blink of an eye—that can be packaged in the space of a traditional four-cylinder engine.

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The new system is half the size and 220 lb. lighter than the system that is used in the 119 Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicles that have been rolling around with regular people behind the wheel since late 2007. They’ve put almost 1.3-million miles on the “Project Driveway” fleet.

Another boon: Driving costs down is an abiding concern for fuel cells, so it is rather significant that the new GM system uses about a third of the platinum of the current gen system. Yes, that’s platinum as in “Tiffany.”