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Driving GM's New Hydrogen Car

The radical thing about Chevy's hydrogen concept car is how normal it feels to drive

6 min read
Driving GM's New Hydrogen Car
Chevrolet's Sequel hydrogen-fuel-cell concept, photographed during Spectrum's test drive at Camp Pendleton, California
Photo: John Voelcker

Hybrids are now an accepted part of our vehicle landscape, with electric cars powered by lithium-ion batteries on the horizon. But General Motors and other manufacturers are also looking much further ahead, toward a future where our personal transport—what we might call “a car”—is powered exclusively by hydrogen fuel cells.

GM has spent a decade working on fuel-cell cars, with several concept vehicles along the way: the HydroGen1 of 2000, and the AUTOnomy and HyWire concepts revealed in 2002. The most recent push came five years ago from CEO Rick Wagoner’s challenge to Larry Burns, GM’s global head of research and development: Completely reinvent the automobile for the 21st century, unburdened by any legacy technologies.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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