Washington, DC-based Fuel Cell News quotesCorp. for fuel cell developments that indicate GM may focus its initial fuel-cell vehicle marketing at Cadillac Div.
Fuel Cell News reports GM says:
A methanol-fueled fuel cell version of the Opel Zafira, will debut at the Paris Motor Show and is planned for production in 2004.
GM fuel cell technology is focused on Cadillac customers, who GM thinks will pay more for environmentally friendly “status.”
This suggests a fuel-cell system will be significantly more costly than current-technology powerplants — even five years hence — and raises some questions.
First, will luxury buyers be willing to pay another premium to be “green?” And if cost-effective methods to reform gasoline to hydrogen onboard the vehicle are not developed, will methanol or pure hydrogen infrastructure be adequate, and at what cost? Finally, will fuel-cell technology offer comparable performance to advanced piston engines working with better-quality fuel?
On the other hand, California emissions mandates still require automakers to produce and supply 10% of new vehicles in the zero-emissions category by 2003. Aside from how GM's Cadillac focus fits the 10% target, if the fuel choice is methanol, its availability and safe handling will require monitoring.