From: Ken Thomas, Associated Press
Published March 30, 2005 12:00 AM

GM, Energy Dept. to Make Fuel Cell Vehicles

WASHINGTON — General Motors Corp. and the U.S. Energy Department have signed a five-year, $88 million deal to build a fleet of 40 hydrogen fuel vehicles, the world's largest automaker said Wednesday.

Under the program, GM will spend $44 million on fuel cell vehicle demonstration fleets in Washington, New York, California and Michigan. The Energy Department will also provide $44 million in a deal set to expire in September, 2009.

GM also announced that Shell Hydrogen LLC will set up five hydrogen refueling stations in Washington, New York, California and along the Eastern seaboard.

The automaker said the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir, Va., and Quantum Technologies in Lake Forest, Calif., would provide facilities for GM to store and maintain fuel cells.

Rather than gasoline, fuel cell vehicles run on the energy produced when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed. The only byproduct of a fuel cell is water. The technology has been used in experimental vehicles and as a power supply for some buildings.

President Bush has pushed a $1.7 billion research program to develop hydrogen as America's next energy source. Within two decades, Bush predicted, Americans will drive cars operated by hydrogen-powered fuel cells.

Most major automakers are developing fuel cells but say the cost of the vehicles and a lack of fueling stations make them unmarketable at this time.

GM's announcement coincided with the National Hydrogen Association's annual conference in Washington, where Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman was scheduled to speak.

GM shares rose 51 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $29.12 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares are near their 52-week low of $27.98.

Source: Associated Press

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