GM Parades Fuel Cell and Hybrid Vehicles Before California Lawmakers

Fuel cell Hywire to be touted as the car of the future.

Published: 11-Feb-2003

Sacramento, Calif. - During a three-day Tech Tour that begins today, state lawmakers, regulators and environmentalists will drive a broad array of General Motors cars and trucks - including the celebrated Hy-Wire - that reduce emissions and improve efficiency.

Hy-Wire is the world's first drivable vehicle that combines by-wire technology with a fuel cell propulsion system, and this is the first time it will be driven in the U.S. Guests also will test-drive nearly a dozen other GM technology vehicles, including hybrids.

"As evidenced by the Hy-Wire, we want Californians to see first-hand that General Motors is very committed to leading the way to a hydrogen economy," said Elizabeth A. Lowery, GM vice-president, environment and energy.

"In the meantime, we want the people of this state to know that GM is improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine using short, mid- and long-term technologies, including the industry's most comprehensive hybrid technology program. Together, these technologies will form the bridge to a hydrogen economy."

Tech Tour participants will learn more about GM technologies from Lowery and Larry Burns, GM vice-president, research, development and planning. Engineers and other technical experts will demonstrate the many technologies, which even include stationary (non-automotive) fuel cell power generation capabilities.

"Fuel cells will revolutionize power and mobility, and during the past year, we have made great progress on this pathway," said Burns. "It is exciting to be able to share this great news with Californians, and to give them a chance to see and drive what we are working on."

In addition to Hy-Wire, Tech Tour participants will drive the HydroGen 2, a fuel cell-powered vehicle that was a critical development car preceding the HydroGen 3, which will join a Federal Express delivery fleet in Tokyo this summer.

While significant technical and business challenges must be addressed on the way to a hydrogen economy, GM already has about 600 people working on fuel cell technology at its three U.S. facilities in Honeoye Falls, N.Y.; Warren, Mich.; and Torrance Calif. GM also has a research facility in Mainz-Kastel, Germany; and offices in Tokyo.

Until fuel cells are produced in large numbers, hybrids are a key element of GM's advanced propulsion program. GM is offering three different hybrid systems on three vehicle architectures, representing more than dozen of its most popular models. Included in the Tech Tour is a parallel hybrid truck that will debut in showrooms this year, along with a Saturn Vue hybrid equipped with a belt alternator starter system. This system improves efficiency in stop-and-go driving by shutting off the engine at idle mode and enabling early fuel cutoff to the engine during decelerations.

In addition, guests will drive vehicles that feature a new engine technology rolling out to GM passenger cars, trucks and SUVs beginning next year. The system, known as Displacement on Demand, allows a vehicle to run more efficiently on half of its engine cylinders when full power is not needed. When engine loads demand full power, the system shifts seamlessly without any input from the driver.

And participants also will drive a number of current production vehicles that deliver low emissions and world-class fuel economy. These include vehicles with continuously variable transmissions, alternative fuel vehicles and clean diesels.

On Wednesday, GM will host a group of middle-school students studying fuel cells at a special Tech Tour for Students.

"At the end of the day, we believe Tech Tour participants will see how GM is using its history of technology and powertrain leadership to reduce vehicle emissions and improve efficiency," said Lowery. "They also will see our tremendous commitment to hydrogen research, why it is the ultimate answer to long-term transportation and why GM is serious about being the first automaker to sell a million fuel cell vehicles."

General Motors (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, designs, builds and markets cars and trucks worldwide, and has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM employs about 355,000 people around the world. More information on GM can be found at

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