GM looks back on clean technology and forward to the future of fuel cell vehicles

October 10, 2016 0 By Erin Kilgore

Annual celebration draws attention to fuel cell vehicles

The second annual Hydrogen Fuel Cell Day is approaching and General Motors is taking the opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world’s first fuel cell vehicle. Fuel cells are often considered the energy systems of the future, despite the fact that they have been around for more than a century. They have only recently become more popular, especially in the transportation field, however, due to their performance capabilities and their efficiency.

Electrovan was the world’s first vehicle equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell

The Electrovan was the world’s first production fuel cell vehicle. General Motors began developing this vehicle in January of 1966/ Three shifts of people would work on the project on a nearly daily basis, leading to its completion in October of the same year. General Motors made use of technology that was based of hydrogen fuel cells used by NASA’s Apollo Space Program. The vehicle could reach 70 miles-per-hour and could travel 150 miles before needing to be refueled. This made it comparable to typical deliver vans that were available at the time.

GM retains a strong interest in fuel cell vehicles

Fuel Cell Vehicles - GM HeadquartersGeneral Motors eventually brought the Electrovan project to a close, but did not abandon its interests in fuel cells. The automaker recently entered into a new test project with the United States Army, developing fuel cell vehicles that will be used by the military. General Motors also has plans to develop other passenger vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells. The company is not the only automaker with such plans.

Major automakers show faith in hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells have come to establish a significant presence in the transportation space. Most of the world’s major automakers are using fuel cells to power a new generation of vehicles. General Motors has already amassed 3.1 million miles in testing the capabilities of fuel cell vehicles, with companies like Toyota and Honda having reached similar milestone.