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First look: GM’s FCV Sequel

Reality check: As their production dates near, fuel cell concepts are becoming a lot more realistic.

General Motors’ latest fuel cell car shows big progress in short periods of time

Holden logo24 Jan 2005

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

GENERAL Motors’ newest vision of a cleaner automotive future – the Sequel fuel cell vehicle – shows that the world’s biggest car-maker is making progress.

In less than three years the Sequel incorporates fuel cell, by-wire and wheel-hub motor technology that doubles the travel range and halves the 0-100km/h acceleration times.

Braking times are also reduced.

Sequel is about the size of a BMW X5 and can travel up to 500km on its hydrogen supply – a sizeable difference (of up to 100km in range) on the current generation fuel cell vehicles like Honda’s pioneering FCX.

"Unequalled control" on snow and ice, or uneven terrain is also claimed.

Previous GM fuel cell vehicles have been the AUTOnomy and Hy-wire concepts – both from 2002.

GM vice-president of research and development and planning, Larry Burnbs, said: "… with Sequel, the vision is real – not yet affordable, but do-able".

13 center imageHe also said that much of the technology that makes the Sequel a viable vehicle already exists, so it doesn’t rely on futuristic and science fiction-style breakthroughs.

Sequel is also GM’s test bed for other advanced technologies, like new materials, electronic controls, computer software and advanced propulsion.

Mr Burns also explained that the ultimate role of Sequel "… is to design and validate a fuel cell propulsion system by 2010 that is competitive with current internal combustion systems on durability and performance, and that ultimately can be built at scale affordably".

An upshot of the Sequel, GM says, is that it will spur governments worldwide to better eliminate emissions, commence with the transition to renewable and stable energy supplies and address accident and congestion issues.

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