— General Motors Corp. will triple its test fleet of fuel cell-powered vehicles next year as part of plans to commercialize alternative fuel vehicles, according to the Detroit News
on January 26.The automaker hopes to operate a fleet of 40 fuel cell vehicles, powered by hydrogen, by 2008 under a research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Some of the vehicles will be tested in Detroit, said Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development. The 13 new vehicles, based on the company's HydroGen 3 fuel cell car, will arrive in New York in 2006. GM is currently testing six fuel cell vehicles in Washington, D.C. GM wants to develop a commercially viable fuel cell vehicle by 2010. One of the obstacles to commercializing fuel cell vehicles is the lack of refueling stations. GM and Shell are adding a hydrogen refueling station in New York City to establish an "East Coast Hydrogen Corridor," according to Jeremy Bentham, Shell Hydrogen CEO. Shell operates a hydrogen station in Washington, D.C., and plans to add a third station between the nation's capital and New York to complete the corridor.GM's latest plans are an important step toward bringing fuel cell vehicles to market, said David Friedman, a research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, but energy providers must move faster to add refueling sites. "I'm not convinced they're convinced the age of hydrogen is upon us," Friedman said.