GM: Reinventing the Automobile
 

In the past few years, GM has developed on the hydrogen fuel cell technology which it used to power two concept cars, the AUTOnomy and the Hy-wire. This year the GM Sequel proves to be GM's greatest leap into the future as it finally succeeded in combining new technologies such as fuel cells, by-wire and wheel hub motors.

February 9, 2005 -- GM has a long history of technological breakthroughs and this year, the GM Sequel proves the company's earnest intent to develop the car of tomorrow. In the past few years, GM has developed on the hydrogen fuel cell technology which it used to power two concept cars, the AUTOnomy and the Hy-wire. This year the GM Sequel proves to be GM's greatest leap into the future as it finally succeeded in combining new technologies such as fuel cells, by-wire and wheel hub motors.

Unlike its predecessors, the Sequel is a step closer to reality because it is no longer just a concept car. With the Sequel, GM engineers have seen for themselves that building and manufacturing such a car with exceptional materials and an unconventional power source is actually feasible and workable though still unaffordable to the general public. But the company is confident that given time and more research, the technologies of a vehicle like the Sequel will be more accessible to the people.

"Three years ago, our chairman and CEO, Rick Wagoner, challenged us to completely rethink the automobile," Burns said. "The Autonomy and Hy-wire concepts were the outgrowth of that challenge C a revolution in how vehicles would be designed, built and used in the future. But, they were concepts. Today, with Sequel, the vision is real C not yet affordable, but doable."

The Sequel represents GM's vision of reinventing the automobile using a unique synthesis of technologies that includes advanced materials, electronic controls, computer software and advanced propulsion. Not only that, GM addresses environmental issues with its comprehensive global advanced strategy that addresses efficiency and emission control from the present engine and transmission technology to the more advanced hybrid systems and eventually fuel cells.

"GM's goal," Burns explained, "is to design and validate a fuel cell propulsion system by 2010 that is competitive with current internal combustion systems on durability and performance, and that ultimately can be built at scale affordably." He adds, "We've achieved remarkable gains in range and acceleration by using our fuel cell system technology that exists today and that's a real breakthrough. For anyone tracking the viability of fuel cell vehicles, this is encouraging news."

But futuristic vehicles aren't GM's sole focus, in fact GM has ventured into research for technologies that will be of great use to other fields. GM has made great advances in hurdling some of the difficulties encountered in fuel cell technology like the tendency for the fuel to freeze and stop functioning in cold weather. The GM fuel cell's freeze start-up time has decreased to less than 15 seconds for 100% power at minus 20 degrees Celsius. The GM prototype stationary fuel cell unit is already producing power for GM's New York fuel cell development facility. In a mere two years, the power density of GM's fuel cell stack technology has increased immensely, while costs have decreased proportionately.

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