Hydrogen Powered Chevy Equinox
I flew into LA yesterday for the Auto Show, and was invited by GM to test drive their Chevy Equinox powered by hydrogen fuel cells. If I didn’t see it and drive it for myself, I wouldn’t believe it existed. Especially after they told me the car uses no gas and there’s no need to ever change the oil… it doesn’t use any of that either. Because there’s no engine. No transmission either. And only a few actual moving parts.
What propels this Equinox is the reaction that occurs when oxygen is mixed with the hydrogen stored in the fuel cells. This creates electricity that powers the electric motor that drives the wheels. And unlike gas-powered engines that give off exhaust, the by product of hydrogen mixing with oxygen is a small amount of water vapor. It’s not low emission, it’s no emission.
How does it drive? Remarkably, like any other car. There’s no lag in pick-up, like I expected there to be. It’s got plenty of power, and has a top speed of about 100 mph. Since it looks almost identical to the gas powered Equinox available now, you’d have a hard time knowing it was powered by hydrogen if it wasn’t for three things: 1 – There is no “gas” gauge, but a fuel cell level indicator, 2 – There’s no tach showing RPM. Instead it has a kilowatt output gauge, and 3 – The car makes no noise at all. Nothing. Hit the gas and the car goes forward. Silently. Which is unsettling at first. I almost expected to hear something like George Jetson’s car when he speeds off to work.
Right now only a handful of these cars exist. And they are being test driven by guys from select cities around the country. Cities that have built hydrogen fueling stations. GM expects the car to be available in a few years, once the costs to build the fuel cells come down to reality, and more fueling stations are built. (And with a range of only 160 miles on fully filled cells, you’d be refueling a lot.) But there is progress, and they are pushing to get the car on the road. Somewhere, Al Gore is smiling.
For more info go to www.chevrolet.com/fuelcell