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  • VIDEO: GM Celebrates 50 Years of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Development with 1966 Electrovan

VIDEO: GM Celebrates 50 Years of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Development with 1966 Electrovan

World’s First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Launched In October 1966

Oct 5, 2016
General Motors, long a champion of hydrogen power, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first such project, the Electrovan. Arriving on the scene half a century before the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, the Electrovan paved the way for generations of GM fuel-cell vehicles.
Going from idea to concept vehicle in 10 months, the GM Electrovan was a test vehicle used to evaluate hydrogen’s potential as an energy source. Built using the bones of a GMC Handivan, the Electrovan is often credited as being the first-ever hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, using 32 interconnected fuel cell modules mounted under the van’s floor to power a 32kW-continuous powerplant mounted under the front seats. The van also had massive hydrogen and oxygen tanks mounted in the rear interior area, reducing seating capacity to just three, with limited space for cargo.
With a maximum range of 150 miles and a top speed of around 70 mph, the Electrovan had performance that was competitive to that of other fullsize vans of the era. However, due to concerns with safety, GM confined the Electrovan to company property. Furthermore, prohibitive costs meant the van would be a one-off, and after it was built, tested, and shown off to the media, GM cancelled the Electrovan program.
Still, with hydrogen fuel cell progeny that include the 2002 GM Hy-Wire concept, the 2008 Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell vehicle, and the aforementioned Colorado ZH2 military vehicle, the Electrovan has cemented its place in history thanks to its impressive engineering prowess. The only Electrovan in existence can be seen at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Sources: General Motors, Petersen Automotive Museum
Photo 2/2   |   1966 Gm Electrovan Cutaway
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