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Fastlane: Chevrolet Project Driveway Fuel Cell Program Passes 1 Million Miles This Week

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By Mark Vann
Chevrolet Fuel Cell Vehicle Deployment Manager

It’s hard to believe only two short years ago we kicked off Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell electric vehicle deployments for Project Driveway at the Society of Environmental Journalists event in Palo Alto, Calif. Since then, our vehicles have accumulated almost 1 million miles in everyday driving conditions, predominantly on the streets of Southern California, New York and the greater Washington, DC-area.

No other automaker comes close to the number of miles we’ve driven using hydrogen in real world conditions, with real people driving these Equinox fuel cell EVs.

These people are teachers, homemakers, accountants, video game designers and people from many other walks of life just like you, and they were selected based on their passion for the environment and new media prowess. We’ve had around 70 families experience the Equinox fuel cell EV in their everyday driving routines and thousands more at the many ride-and-drive events we’ve participated in across the country.

During the past two years, I have personally ridden with several hundred people in the Equinox fuel cell EVs. The look of sheer amazement on peoples’ faces when they press the accelerator to the floor is priceless and their first comment is almost always, “Wow!”

People love the smooth powerful acceleration and doing it without consuming a drop of petroleum or emitting anything from the tailpipe except pure water vapor. The toughest day for our drivers is when they have to turn in the Equinox at the end of their loan.

We’ve learned a great deal from having the vehicles in varied usage and climates, from the heat of the San Fernando Valley in LA to the bitter cold winter of West Point, NY. We’ve used these experiences to extend fuel cell stack life and improve the regenerative braking system, which benefited our 2-mode hybrid vehicles since it’s the same brake system used on the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon 2-mode hybrids. Plus, we’ve applied what we’ve learned about fuel cell thermal design to the Volt battery design.

We could have tested these vehicles at our proving ground facilities, but the opportunity to have real people drive these vehicles gave us a much higher degree of relevant feedback on the vehicle’s performance – and even more important, it gave us a great opportunity to listen to our customers.

I think I have the best job at Chevy; people love this electrically driven vehicle. It’s quiet, smooth, has great acceleration and most importantly, it does all of this without consuming a drop of petroleum or producing any tailpipe emissions. Fuel cell vehicles are part of an energy diverse future and I’m proud we’re in a leadership position with this budding technology.

Join me and one of our DC-area drivers, Daniel Stewart, right here on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT for a live webchat to discuss the future of hydrogen and how fuel cell vehicles fit into the nation’s energy future. Daniel will also be able to give you a first-hand account of what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle powered by hydrogen as an everyday experience.

Our Project Driveway people in the DC-area will also be hosting a tweetup Wednesday evening in Arlington, VA beginning at 6 p.m. EDT. Join us if you’re available.


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