The financial woes at General Motors could finally be catching up with its fuel cell vehicle development program.
[social_buttons] In a Web-based interview with the media Tuesday, CEO Fritz Henderson said the company may take a close look at what it spends on fuel cell development. When asked by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s Matt Daneman about fuel cells, Henderson said “while we need to be more efficient in this area, we are confident we can maintain the capabilities necessary to win in the market going forward.” Th giant automaker declared bankruptcy this month and is selling off subsidiaries.
Any cuts could have a significant impact on Rochester because GM employs 300 people at a fuel cell research center in Honeoye Falls, about 20 minutes south of the city. That center has been developing a fuel cell SUV based on the Chevy Equinox. Test models of the car have attracted considerable attention, and have been at the center of a minor controversy as well.
Henderson said fuel cell vehicles are still “some considerable time away.” However, other companies are heading into the market. With GM also casting its lot with the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid and full EV technologies, the question of whether we will ever see a mass produced fuel cell car on the market remains an open one.
Update: GM spokesman Alan Adler, who also comments below, tells the Rochester paper there was no suggestion of cuts to fuel cell research. In an update posted this afternoon Adler is quoted as saying “‘efficiency’ can mean any number of approaches, including partnerships, etc. Right now, our focus is on creating a business case that would make fuel cell vehicles financially viable. As with all new technology, it is expensive in the beginning.”
Henderson also addressed the topic on GM’s Fastlane blog today, noting that it’s fleet of 100 fuel cell test vehicles has logged 750,000 miles through Project Driveway.
Photo credit: Geognerd via a Creative Commons License.