Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell: Floating on Hydrogen
Woosh! Like a jet engine the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell comes to the life with a gentle push of a button. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that my spaceship is ascending into the skies above. Feet on the ground (and wheels too!) here I am safely in Brooklyn, driving what looks to be the average family-size small SUV, but in some ways this is space-aged stuff. It could be the next way we get in our cars and go.
As the race to make cleaner, leaner and greener vehicles consumes automakers, legislators and earth-minded citizens, the rare treat of test driving a hydrogen crossover is a good way to put theory to test. Are we ready for a vehicle with zero emissions and all the space a family of four could hope for? The answer depends on how much time and planning a driver is willing to invest while the future catches up to the present.
The Equinox driving experience was fascinating if not a bit freaky — all those noises and the silent creep as hydrogen fueled my takeoff. When the small green light gave me the go ahead after a few seconds, I was ready to roll. I gingerly pulled out as this new technology took some adjusting as the Equinox started to feel more like a car.
The biggest deterrent to driving hydrogen is — and most likely will continue to be — a lack of availability. While the Equinox drove smoothly, my range was limited to 150 miles. My GM driving relationship manager informed me that when I reached less than 50 miles, I would have to trek up to Westchester County to refuel. The painstaking customer service of the GM group responsible for such loans made this task accommodating. But of course this helpful service would not be possible if I were one of thousands rather than one of 100 in the world driving and fueling a fuel cell vehicle. And, while I was in possession of the test Equinox one of the two area stations was down in service.
While, it seems like the obvious answer for more stations to open, the likelihood of that happening has cost barriers and supply issues. But wouldn’t it be great if we could all have a personal driving relationship manager? Sounds like the next step after life coach. I’ll settle for a bridge to somewhere – the electric Chevy Volt — coming soon in 2010 with the promise of a new sustenance.