Promising to have fuel-cell vehicles in showrooms by 2012, General Motors Corp. completes a historic 304-mile (489-km) test drive of its Chevrolet Sequel FCV on one tank of hydrogen.

Driving from GM's Fuel Cell Activity Center in Honeoye Falls, NY, to Tarrytown, NY, the Sequel makes the trip carrying 18 lbs. (8 kg) of hydrogen, the equivalent of 16 gallons (61 L) of gasoline.

The Sequel's fuel stack generates 98 hp, which provides the vehicle a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h).

GM says the Sequel is the first vehicle in the world to successfully integrate a hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion system with a broad menu of advanced technologies, such as steer- and brake-by-wire controls, wheel hub motors, lithium-ion batteries and a lightweight aluminum structure.

“This was the first fuel-cell vehicle to drive 300 miles on one tank of hydrogen on public roads. This truly represents the new DNA of automotive technology,” Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development, tells reporters.

General Motors is proving that advanced technology can remove the automobile from the environmental debate and reduce our dependence on petroleum. (The) Chevy Sequel clearly shows that our vision for the future of the automobile is real and sustainable.”

GM announced last September plans to lease more than 100 FCVs this fall to the general public in the form of Chevrolet Equinox cross/utility vehicles.

A company spokesman says leasing will be focused on areas where there is a hydrogen infrastructure to permit convenient refueling, such as Westchester County, NY; Burbank, CA; and Washington.

The auto maker reportedly will increase its retail FCV fleet to 1,000 units between 2010-2012.