~e; General Fuel-Cell Motoring

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Mon, 7 Jan 2002 16:08:23 -0600

  [great news. not only about a fuel-cell car from a big US automaker (or int'l
  conglomerate, not sure which), but a modular design 'around the
fuel-cell' itself,
  which i think (if terminology is correct) separates the chassis from
the car/truck/
  SUV vehicle body. taking this advance in automaking, with the
upcoming changes in
  batteries for cellphones, computers, and unimaginable other things,
these together
  could force an evolution of industry to change the unchangeable, by
sheer demand
  of those who want to see these things realized in our own time. the
  is if the US Energy Policy is the opposite of what innovations are
going on in the
  industries, where adminstrative support for this and other (energy/tech/media)
  advances similar to these could forment into a larger, much more
significant move
  towards a better model for (re)development, infrastructure and basic
tools used
  everyday, but many millions and billions. if industry can change
strategies to deal
  with the present-future, hopefully others, including policy makers
can do so too.]

GM Veers Towards Fuel Cells Cars
10:45 a.m. Jan. 7, 2002 PST
After 100 years of making gasoline-burning cars, General Motors sees
a not-so-distant future when vehicles powered by hydrogen will
revolutionize the industry and make transportation more affordable
for the world's population.

GM, the world's largest automaker, unveiled a fuel cell vehicle at
the Detroit auto show on Monday. The company said the fuel cell could
rewrite the rules of how automakers design cars and make them much
cheaper to build.

Because fuel cells consume hydrogen and emit only water and heat,
automakers have talked for years about the arrival of the cleaner
technology over the next decade as a way to make cars more
environmentally friendly and curtail the need for foreign oil.

GM (XGM) said its Autonomy fuel cell car, which the company claims is
the first vehicle designed exclusively for the fuel cell, could have
a far broader impact.

Autonomy houses all the essential elements of the car, including the
fuel cell to provide power, in a skateboard-like chassis between the
four wheels and under the body and seats of the vehicle.

The chassis could be fitted with a wide variety of bodies, such as a
minivan interior for a family in the United States, or a pickup truck
bed for hauling livestock in China, GM said.

Because the Autonomy chassis has a 20-year lifespan, a growing family
could change from a sporty sedan to a larger sport utility vehicle by
switching the body, a far cheaper alternative to buying a new
vehicle. Or if the vehicle needs more power, the fuel cell can be

"This is more than just a technological or design experiment," said
Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development and
planning. "Our end goal is nothing short of reinventing the

A vehicle using the Autonomy chassis could look completely different
from those on the road today. Because the gasoline-burning engine is
gone and the controls -- such as steering and braking -- are operated
by electronic wires rather than mechanical connections, car designers
are free to come up with new interpretations of cars and trucks.

"From a design perspective ... almost all restraints are gone," said
Wayne Cherry, GM vice president of design. "No one ever said before,
'Let's take a clean sheet of paper and design around a fuel cell.'"

Although fuel cells are more expensive than gasoline engines, the
costs of owning a vehicle could be driven down by the flexibility of
the Autonomy, the elimination of many mechanical parts and the long
life cycle of the vehicle, GM said. Currently only about 12 percent
of the world's population owns a vehicle.

"There's plenty of room to design costs out of this," Burns said.
"It's potentially a stimulus for significant growth in automobile
demand worldwide."

Copyright  2001 Reuters Limited.
(fair-use, .edu 2002 ~e.org)

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