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Cars Worth Noting: HydroGen3 Fuel Cell

HydroGen3 Fuel Cell

General Motors and Shell Hydrogen met once again in New York’s Central Park to announce the installation of a second retail demonstration hydrogen station to fuel a fleet of 13 GM fuel cell vehicles that will run the streets of Manhattan. To mark the occasion, GM brought along two of its updated Opel Zafira-based fuel cell vehicles for the media to drive along a short loop around Central Park.

This Gen3 didn’t look much different than the one I drove several years ago in Monaco, aside from the Chevrolet Equinox steering wheel (a hint of things to come), but several technical modifications have been made to the power module. The new stack is smaller than the previous generation (18.5-in. long x 10-in. wide x 19.5-in. high) and puts out 25 percent more power. The 73 kW stack also boasts an improved power density of 1.6 kw per liter and a maximum output of 110 kW.

Since Gen3 has no transmission, there’s nothing to shift. Just press the brake pedal, poke the forward arrow button and hit the throttle. The extra power was evident on take-off as the front end lifts under the torque and the vehicle is pulled forward, but not as evident as the fact that we were circling Central Park in a fuel cell vehicle on this very chilly nine-degree winter day.

The Zafira is just the right size to dodge New York cabs and maneuver through the congested city streets. The whirr of the compressor was the only sound heard other than a brief toot on the horn to warn an errant pedestrian or overzealous cabbie, trying not to put a dent in GM’s million-dollar baby. The only thing that slowed us down was a hidden pothole that jarred the stiff right front suspension and made our engineer passenger wince, but did no serious damage to the car. We drove the Gen3 until the low fuel light came on and eased it home.

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Mon. July 22nd, 2024

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