DETROIT – General Motors has handed the keys to four Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles to a group of key government partners who are participating in Chevrolet's Project Driveway — the largest-ever market test of fuel cell-electric vehicles. More than 100 electric vehicles, powered by hydrogen fuel cells, are being placed in the hands of drivers in New York, California, and Washington, D.C. Selected drivers include general public, media, influencers, celebrities, business, and public policy partners.
Almost 70 of these vehicles are now on the road in the United States and further deployments are planned in Europe and Asia later this year. Joining Chevy in Project Driveway are the University of California, Irvine; the California Air Resources Board; the California Fuel Cell Partnership; and the Air Quality Management District in Southern California.
These organizations will be evaluating Chevy's fuel cell Equinoxes to understand the current state of technology, get first-hand experience with infrastructure needs and challenges, and have a better understanding of what is needed for larger scale fleet applications. These organizations will also utilize the vehicles for public education and awareness to help communicate the energy and environmental benefits of fuel cells and hydrogen.
Chevy is also partnering with major businesses like Disney and Virgin Atlantic to put its fuel cell vehicles to the test in rigorous real-world environments. At the recent Academy Awards, several luminaries were transported to the event in fuel cell Equinoxes.
The National Fuel Cell Research Center was formally dedicated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission in February 1998 to lead the commercial evolution of stationary fuel cells and to help illuminate the relationship between stationary fuel cells and the emerging hydrogen economy. Today, the NFCRC, which is located at the University of California, Irvine, enjoys an international reputation as a leader in the advancement of fuel cell and distributed generation technologies, as well as the emerging hydrogen infrastructure. The center's vehicle is being operated under a $125,000 award from CARB which GM won through RFP process, requiring a state agency or university as a partner, thus UC Irvine. It is the only fuel cell vehicle to have received funding under this award to demonstrate hydrogen powered vehicles.
The California Air Resources Board's (ARB) use of the Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle will allow staff from ARB to assess the progress made in developing the technology and to better recognize the challenges remaining both for the vehicle and supporting infrastructure. ARB will scientifically evaluate the technology while also using the Equinox at local school events, including at university or college campuses, to promote both current and future clean vehicle technologies.
The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) is a collaboration of 33 member organizations, including auto manufacturers, energy providers, government agencies and fuel cell technology companies. CaFCP's 13 staff members will take turns using the Equinox as their personal vehicle for one week at a time. The vehicle will be used to drive to meetings, run errands, and attend outreach events where CaFCP staff can discuss the vehicle with the public.
South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties — about half the population of the whole state of California. The South Coast AQMD believes that all who live or work in this area have a right to breathe clean air. AQMD is committed to undertaking all necessary steps to protect public health from air pollution, with sensitivity to the impacts of its actions on the community and businesses. This is accomplished through a comprehensive program of planning, regulation, compliance assistance, enforcement, monitoring, technology advancement, and public education.