The cars will be used for testing and evaluating fuel cell technology.
General Motors has sold 16 electric cars with hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology (as opposed to those with the range extender variety) to the US Navy who will use the cars for evaluation purposes. The fuel cell car sold to the Navy is the Chevrolet Equinox
, which was shown for the first time over two years ago at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. By then the car had already accumulated more than a million miles of driving.
In 2010, GM announced that it had further developed the fuel cell system and reduced its size and weight. The company said then that testing continues and commercialization of the system is expected by 2015. Military organizations are interested in fuel cell technology for various applications and according to the Navy the cars have been purchased for fuel cell technology testing and evaluation rather than testing the cars themselves. "Operating these vehicles will provide the military with the necessary data and experience to determine future applications of fuel cell technology."
So says Charles Freese, GM executive director of Global Fuel Cell Activities. "Our pursuit of alternative energy is closely tied to our commitment to continually adapt to an ever-changing security environment," said George Ka'iliwai, director of Resources and Assessment for U.S. Pacific Command. "Defense relationships and military approaches alone can't solve all of our energy challenges, but they underpin the initiatives we're taking within the Department of Defense to reduce the dependence on foreign sources of energy."
The military fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles travel up to 200 miles on a single charge, refuels in five minutes, and produces zero emissions. The vehicles are being paid for by the Army Tank Automotive Research Development Engineering Center (TARDEC), Office of Naval Research and Air Force Research Laboratories (ONR) and Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL). The sum paid was not disclosed.