The cost of electricity from a fuel cell is $73 a kilowatt. A typical homeowner pays 10 cents.
General Motors says that Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell electric vehicles today passed one million miles of testing. The company estimates that more than 50,000 gallons of gasoline have been saved so far in fuel cell equipped Equinox models. There are currently more than 100 of the electric vehicles on the road, which GM claims is the largest consumer fuel cell demonstration fleet in the world.
The fuel cell electric Equinox runs on electricity created by an on-board fuel cell stack similar to ones used the space program and almost as expensive. The U.S. Department of Energy estimated last year that in volume production electricity will be made at $73 a kilowatt; a kilowatt of electricity in Michigan for residential customers costs 15 cents or less.
In spite of the enormous technical challenge, the attraction of a fuel cell is that the only emissions created are water vapor — if you don’t take into account how the hydrogen fuel is created that the Chevrolet fuel cell uses.
The Equinox fuel cell is part of Chevrolet’s electrification of the automobile, which continues next year with commercial production of the Volt extended-range electric vehicle. Feedback and learning from the Equinox fuel cell is being shared with the Volt development team. Both cars are not commercially viable at this time given extremely high development costs production costs. Automakers are pushing for massive taxpayer financed subsidies to help them sell electric vehicles to the public.
About 5,000 people have driven the fuel cell Equinox models in short test drives. More than 80,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Greater Los Angeles, volunteered to drive the vehicles as part of Project Driveway, which began in November 2007.
The Fuel Cell Equinox carries about 4.2 kilograms of compressed hydrogen on board, enough for about 168 miles before a five-to-seven minute refill is required. Regenerative braking helps to send electricity back to the battery pack, which extends the driving range somewhat. Drivers refill at hydrogen stations in New York, Washington, and South California.
Minimal Kilowatts Required!
“It has never been our focus to get a million miles, but it’s given us an incredible learning experience,” said Mark Vann, who manages Project Driveway for Chevrolet. “This says a lot about the viability of fuel cell vehicles – that they are not one or two decades away but are doable today.”