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Fuel-Cell Cars for California Are Planned

From Reuters

Automakers outlined plans Tuesday to introduce hydrogen-powered cars in California but said they had a long road ahead, despite strong support from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who dreams of a “hydrogen highway.”

General Motors Corp., Japan’s Honda Motor Co. and Germany’s BMW are pursuing competing technologies to introduce new “zero emission” cars that run on fuel cells and do not pollute, said engineering and marketing managers for the three automakers.

BMW plans to offer a limited number of gasoline engine and hydrogen fuel-cell system models in its 7 Series in 2010, said Wilhelm Hall, general manager of environmental engineering at BMW North America.

He spoke at a briefing for reporters on California’s efforts to persuade automakers to manufacture more environmentally friendly cars for California’s “hydrogen highway.”

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BMW plans a production run of the new car “in the hundreds” in five years with sales aimed at fleet operators and individuals in Europe and the U.S., Hall told Reuters.

GM is developing a demonstration car called the Sequel powered by a compressed hydrogen engine, said Al Weverstad, executive director of GM’s Public Policy Center.

Weverstad said GM would complete its engineering analysis on hydrogen vehicles by 2010, but no timetable has been set for production and marketing programs. GM is concerned about development costs, he said, but added: “We are confident we will get there.”

And Honda has developed a hydrogen fuel-cell demonstration car and also a car running on compressed natural gas that can be refueled at home.

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Steve Ellis, manager of fuel-cell marketing for Honda in California, said the company’s strategy for lower-emission cars moved from high gasoline fuel economy to gasoline-electric hybrids to compressed gas to hydrogen fuel-cell models.


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