GM invented the Electrovan in 1966, which arguably was the first fuel cell vehicle to be produced as a life size working prototype. Since then GM has worked in various fuel cell vehicles including for the past several years the Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell under the Project Driveway program.
The fuel cells for the multiple Equinox vehicles that were built were developed by 220 scientists, engineers and others at the Honeoye Falls, New York facility. At one time the same facility employed over 400 people.
Now, since their lease is expiring in the first quarter of 2013, GM has decided to move the facility to another facility in Pontiac, Michigan. The plant in Pontiac builds gasoline and diesel engines and transmissions.
The move is seen as a money-saving venture by GM and also a consolidation of expert resources. According to GM executive Charlie Freese, “The ability to take someone that knows how to do a turbo charger on a diesel engine and apply them to the compressor on a fuel cell, those kinds of things provide a lot of advantages … Work on gasoline and diesel-powered engines and transmissions is done in Pontiac, so moving the fuel cell program will allow more sharing of knowledge and improved worker efficiency across numerous technology platforms.”
So, in effect, what GM is doing is starting to mainstream the building of fuel cell vehicle components into the mix at their regular plants in Michigan. The mainstreaming of new technology along with older technology is one small step for man down the path of commercialization leading to one giant leap for mankind just a few short years from now.