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September 16, 2006



Hi Joel - having seen a preview of "Who killed the electric car" here in Oz, I can't help but think that "Project Driveway" sounds a lot like the pilot program of electric vehicles that the movie centres around.

The partnership with Shell to roll-out refueling stations sounds very similar to the roll-out of electric charging stations in California for the EV initiative. Except that electricity is available in most places from a variety of providers, whereas gas companies like Shell will get a cut of the 'hydrogen economy'.

I was wondering what your thoughts are, then, on just how "real" this all is?

(That's also setting aside questions about the net energy required to produce hydrogen, esp. if not matched by a move to renewables - but I digress...)

Joel Makower

Good question, Grant. As I tried to articulate in my blog post, I think this is "real," however small for now. One of the things that impressed me most at the event I attended was that the GM participants included two of the lead engineers on the EV-1. They're very excited about GM's hydrogen play and believe that it's a natural extension of all the work they've done in the past.

In short, I think GM is deeply committed to this. Whether they can pull it off, of course, is another question.

-- Joel


Thanks Joel - great to hear that the EV1 team's learnings are being put to good use.

Let's hope that they're more successful this time around :)


Thanks a lot for this great article!

I have one question though : what about the environmental impacts of producing hydrogen for it to be used in such cars? The question is in fact : even if hydrogen is an answer for oil shortages, is it an answer for global warming?


I agree with the above post. Just like the ethanol issue, since these can be sourced from corn, they are coined as unsustainable subsidized food burning. We might not have shortage in fuel but eventually this may lead to food shortage which I think is much more distressing.


Good coverage of an increasingly important issue! What sort of range would these cars do? I was watching an article here in the UK that said Honda had developed a similar vehicle and were feasability testing it on a 'secret island'. They had even developed a pump that you can use at your house which uses electrolysis of water from solar energy to produce the hygrogen. Since fuel cells only produce water anyways the only environmental impact of this system would be more rain... not so great here in UK, there's enough already ;-)

Ron Skidmore

Very informative article, thanks!

Why do the car companies want to develop complex fuel cell vehicles that require explosive fuel and expensive new hydrogen distribution infrastructure, when the GM EV1 worked fine with a home plug-in? The fuel supply infrastructure is already in place for most of us to use an electrical vehicle which would charge at night when there is available grid capacity.

Over the long term, either plug-ins or fuel cells will require more electric power grid capacity, and nuclear power is one of the few sources that won't promote global warming. Yet, I don't see the energy companies moving that direction even with recent legislation that makes siting nuclear plants a bit faster.

Jim Mosley

I don't think Shell Hydrogen is thinking this way, but a great way to create a distribution system to deliver hydrogen is to use solar electric panels to create hydrogen from water. You could have a system on your home. Filling stations could use solar panels on mall roofs, etc... Hydrogen is just a energy storage/carrier, not a source. If the source is fossil fuels, then the effect is not very green. If the source is solar energy, then it may just be a better way to store and deliver this abundant and very green but variable energy.

Willy Mason ( Hybrid Cars )

Thanks for this article. Very detailed.I think over the next couple of years will see huge developments in the hybrid car range


..I spent two days in Southern California with a group of journalists, activists, and others, listening to GM executives unveil its plans for a hydrogen-powered future

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