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By Herb Shuldiner, Apr 2, 2008 12:01 AM

Fuel-cell vehicles have the potential to one day be mass-produced, Larry Burns, General Motors Corp vice president-research and development, tells the National Hydrogen Assn. today at the group’s annual conference in Sacramento, CA.

After spending more than $1 billion in developing hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles, GM has “not discovered anything yet to suggest mass volume cannot ultimately be attained,” Burns says in a prepared speech.

He does not indicate when that might happen but insists, “Mass volume is the only goal that matters from an energy and environmental perspective.”

Meanwhile, he urges the NHA to help accelerate the development of fuel-cell vehicles, stressing hydrogen-based technology promises emissions-free, family-sized vehicles that will be affordable to own and operate.

GM currently has a waiting list of 8,000 people who want to participate in Project Driveway, the world’s largest market test of fuel-cell vehicles.

But the research chief cautions hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles must go through several generations of ever-improving vehicles driven by the public to achieve high sales volumes.

“The true potential of a technology cannot be proven in laboratories or demonstrations,” Burns says. “It can only be proven with real products used by real customers in real markets.”
Public currently testing Chevy Equinox fuel-cell vehicles.

But to reach the market tipping point, customers must have safe and convenient access to affordable hydrogen.
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