General Motors has opened its fuel cell development center on July 29. The center, partially powered by a GM-built fuel cell, is on the outskirts of Rochester, NY. It will employ about 100 engineers and researchers whose mission is to develop technology that will allow GM to mass produce fuel cells, first for stationary power generators, then for automobiles. Tim Vail, GM's director of distributed generation solutions, said he expects GM to be marketing stationary fuel cell power generators by 2005. The automaker will start by seeking businesses that buy uninterrupted premium power, such as hospitals, e-commerce groups and food processing com-panies, Vail said. GM said it expects its stationary fuel cell generator business will help offset the massive costs of developing fuel cell vehicles and will give it experience producing automotive fuel cells in high volumes. The company has not decided which plants will produce fuel cells, or which divisions will be responsible for the production, said Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development and planning. GM spends about $100 million annually on fuel cell research and says it is eager to start generating cash from its work.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials