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GM, Honda Fuel-Cell Plans Frustrated by Hydrogen-Station Delay

Bloomberg: GM, Honda Fuel-Cell Plans Frustrated by Hydrogen-Station Delay

By Alan Ohnsman

April 3 (Bloomberg) — General Motors Corp. and Honda Motor Co. said delays by energy companies in adding hydrogen stations in California threaten to hold back the market for cars powered by the clean fuel.

California said last week that the six biggest automakers must sell 7,500 hydrogen fuel-cell and battery-electric cars between 2012 and 2014 under a program to push “zero-emission vehicle technology.” The state lacks a complementary regulation requiring fuel companies to open hydrogen stations, said Larry Burns, GM’s vice president of research and development.

“To not drive the infrastructure equally aggressively to marry up with that is a little perplexing,” Burns said in an interview yesterday in Sacramento, California. “We have not accomplished anything if the auto industry builds 7,500 ZEV products in 2012 through 2014 and they sit in driveways and parking lots.” because of a lack of fuel stations.

GM, Honda, Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC are pursuing hydrogen as an alternative to gasoline because fuel-cells cut carbon emissions linked to global warming and help reduce dependence on imported oil. GM and Honda said they are addressing cost and durability issues, bringing hydrogen vehicles closer to market.

Currently, 24 stations are open, according to the California Fuel-Cell Partnership, though most are not accessible to the public. Some 204 fuel-cell vehicles operate in California, according to the state.

Duncan Macleod, vice president of Royal Dutch Shell’s Shell Hydrogen, told attendees at the National Hydrogen Association conference in Sacramento yesterday that the company expects only about five customers to fuel up on hydrogen per day at each such facility, compared with 2,000 customers at a standard U.S. gasoline station.

GM is the world’s largest automaker. Honda is first to lease fuel-cell autos to U.S. customers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at [email protected]

Last Updated: April 3, 2008 10:58 EDT

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