U.S. Hydrogen Vehicle first on Japanese Roads

The Japanese Government granted GM the first-ever approval to drive a liquid hydrogen-fueled vehicle on public roads in Japan.

Tokyo, Japan – March 13, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] GM’s HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle will be the first to drive on the streets of Japan using liquid hydrogen as its fuel. HydroGen3’s 400 kilometer (250 mile) driving range is the highest of any fuel cell vehicle approved for public roads in Japan. Approval was granted by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. HydroGen3 also received the first-ever approval for a liquid hydrogen storage system for vehicle use from the High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan (KHK). GM recently announced that it has increased the driving range of its compressed hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with the world’s first successful vehicle test of a 700 bar (10,000 PSI) hydrogen storage system. The new 700 bar/10,000 PSI tank technology extends the range of GM’s HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle by 60-70 percent compared to an equivalent-sized 5,000 PSI system. HydroGen3, based on the Zafira MPV minivan, is GM’s first entry in the Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project, which is being directed by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Beginning in June, FedEx will operate HydroGen3 several days a week on its regular delivery routes in Tokyo. GM will collect data from FedEx, and will provide all vehicle engineering and maintenance. FedEx drivers will receive training from GM engineers. “This testing project is the first true commercial use of a fuel cell vehicle in Japan,” said Raymond Grigg, chairman and CEO, representative director, General Motors Japan Ltd. “We expect to learn a lot about how fuel cell vehicles operate under demanding, real-world conditions by having FedEx operate the HydroGen3 like they would any of their regular delivery vehicles.” HydroGen3 has a top speed of 160 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour) and stores up to 4.6 kilograms of liquid hydrogen at -253 C onboard. It boasts several advancements in packaging and technology that move GM closer to developing a production-ready fuel cell vehicle. The fuel cell propulsion system has been entirely incorporated into a single module, allowing the whole system to be installed as a single unit in the HydroGen3, using the same mounting points as a conventional engine. This frees up additional interior space, allowing for packaging similar to today’s production models. Other important breakthroughs in the HydroGen3 include eliminating the need for a buffer battery – needed in previous generations to deal with specific peak-power demands – as well as developing an internal system for humidifying the fuel cell stack.
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