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GM Developing Home Hydrogen Fueling Station

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GM developing home hydrogen refueling device

24-September-2006

Source:Chris Woodyard-USA Today

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General Motors is building a prototype for a home hydrogen refueling unit in hopes of selling fuel-cell cars by 2011.

The unit, which would make hydrogen using either electricity or sunlight, would help sidestep one of the most vexing problems surrounding the creation of the pollution-free, alternative-power cars: how to persuade oil companies to invest in expensive new hydrogen stations that would compete with their core product, gasoline.

The automaker's goal is an affordable, compact unit that would allow customers to fill their cars overnight in their own garages, says GM spokesman Scott Fosgard.

GM would join Honda, which has already created a model for a home refueling hydrogen unit.

Home refueling makes the possibility of fuel-cell cars "much more real," especially since building hydrogen fueling stations would be a "massive undertaking," says Ron Cogan, publisher of the Green Car Journal.

GM is starting to seriously plan a business case for hydrogen vehicles, which up to now has been a long-range research project eclipsed by more market-ready fuel-saving alternatives, such as gas-electric hybrids.

Next year, GM plans to put 100 hydrogen fuel-cell versions of its Chevrolet Equinox SUV into the hands of consumers — from teachers to government officials — in Washington, D.C., California and New York.

And Vice Chairman Bob Lutz recently predicted that GM fuel-cell-powered vehicles could go on sale in as few as five years from now, beating previous forecasts by a decade.

He said fuel cells could create a new golden age for GM hearkening back to the 1950s and 1960s.

Fueling is a problem. California, with the most hydrogen filling stations of any state, has just 23 and another 15 on the drawing boards. Even GM's oil company partner, Shell, has immediate plans for only six, two outside New York and four on the drawing board in Los Angeles.

One big reason: expense. Shell's only existing hydrogen filling station, in the Washington, D.C., area, cost $2 million.

As for how many it eventually might build, "We haven't hung numbers on it," says Shell Hydrogen's Tim O'Leary.

GM isn't alone in home refueling. Honda unveiled the third generation of its home unit last year, created in conjunction with a fuel-cell company called Plug Power. It produces enough hydrogen from natural gas to power both a car and a home.

Honda also has a solar-powered refueling station in operation at its test center in Torrance, Calif. It makes enough hydrogen for 30 miles of driving a day.

Honda today demonstrated its next-generation hydrogen car in Japan. Honda says its new FCX, with a smaller, lighter fuel cell, has a range of more than 270 miles. It's due to arrive in the USA in 2008. Honda has 15 current-generation FCXs being tested by consumers.

Other automakers have hydrogen programs as well, but aren't as far along.

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Awsome!!! I think it's great that GM is taking it in their own hands to provide hydrogen sources, now they have 2 things they can profit from.... and in time oil companies will with they did the same.

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better start building more nuclear power plants... we're gonna need the electricity.

197810[/snapback]

Totally hear you! I plan to write letters to my states democratic representatives to ask them to reverse their policy against nuclear power.

Also, It would totally kick ass to hop in the car every morning to find the tank full! How awesome would that be!

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Anybody think that GM has an idea in the back of their head that they can power a house with the same unit, especially with solar power involved? Just think if GM were the

worlds top car maker AND the worlds top power generator! That could REALLY rain on Toyota's parade!

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I have to admitt. That is a sweet idea. Talk about the ultimate energy independence. And even if the unit doesn't use solar energy to make the Hydrogen, it could plug into the wall and use energy from the local powerplant, which, by the way, is much cheaper per KW than gasoline is. Instead of plug-in electric cars, plug-in hydrogen cars.

Now just make the unit a mere $3000, bundled along with the car, and offer a free lifetime-of-the-car warrenty on it. Imagine, no more paying for gas ever again!

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Being in the state that lives off of Hydrogen electricty, I'm more than happy to plunk down my money for one. Electricity here is cheap and a home fueling station makes more sense than going to the gas station.

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Anybody think that GM has an idea in the back of their head that they can power a house with the same unit, especially with solar power involved? Just think if GM were the

worlds top car maker AND the worlds top power generator! That could REALLY rain on Toyota's parade!

198245[/snapback]

That is the plan, and the genesis for the statement that this could harken a new golden age for GM. Buy the stock at 33, watch it go to 330!

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