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GM to announce European marathon for fuel-cell-powered vehicle
Publication date: 28-April-2004

United States (AFP) - General Motors Corp. plans to announce that it will run one of its fuel-cell-powered vehicles through a 6,200-mile European marathon.

The long-distance journey -- featuring a HydroGen 3 fuel-cell prototype inside an Opel Zafira minivan -- will cover 14 countries beginning in Hammerfest, at the northern tip of Norway, and ending June 11 in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

The project is part publicity stunt, part trial. "We are talking about driving this vehicle over 6,000 miles across temperature and elevation extremes," said Julie Beamer, GM's director of fuel-cell commercialization.

The route will expose the Zafira to extremes of temperatures in the Alps, testing its reliability in cold weather.

The move follows Tuesday's announcement that the federal government is to give a 350 million-dollar shot in the arm to hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles in the form of research grants.

The private sector is expected to ante up another 225 million dollars over the next five years, bringing the total amount to 575 million dollars.

"The 575 million is just a down payment on new energy initiatives," said US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (news - web sites) at a press conference in Detroiit. "This is to show that hydrogen is not something that is just abstract, but something that is real."

The federal funds represent nearly one-third of 1.2 billion dollars that US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) pledged for hydrogen research during his 2002 State of the Union address.

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i find this fuel-cell stuff very interesting and exciting. even more than electric vehicles, as we're all surrounded by electric motors and they're very well proven (or getting there in the case of vehicle engines). but hydrogen fuel cell is very new and unknown to most of the public (including me!). s'very cool!
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