15 June 2004

Thought fuel-cell power was consigned to the laboratory and decades away from reality? Think again. General Motors last week set the world distance record for a fuel-cell car after completing a marathon 6059-mile jaunt around Europe.

The GM HydroGen 3, a Zafira midi-MPV jammed with the latest experimental hydrogen technology, arrived in Cabo da Roca near Lisbon, Portugal, on 9 June. At a stroke, it nearly doubled the previous record held by DaimlerChrysler since 2002.

GM’s challenge started on 13 May in the arctic chill of Hammerfest, the northern tip of Norway, and passed through 14 countries, before finishing last week in Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of the European mainland.

Although a small number of fuel-cell vehicles are already leased to private companies, widespread commercial use of clean hydrogen power isn’t likely until the end of the decade.

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