The GM Electrovan hydrogen fuel cell vehicle turns half a century, being the vehicle that set the base for the company’s modern FCV development and research.
Hydrogen fuel cells are often said to be one of the versions for the future of the automotive industry – but just like battery electrics they aren’t actually truly new technologies. The fuel cell makes electricity by chemically converting the energy released as positively charged hydrogen ions react with oxygen. The principle was actually first demonstrated over 200 years ago in 1801, and the first working fuel cell was invented in 1838. The fuel cells then caught wind back in the 1960s, when NASA used the technology for its space dwellings. General Motors is now claiming they had the first working fuel cell vehicle, showcased for the first time 50 years ago to the month.
The Electrovan project was kickstarted in January of 1966 and was ready for a practical demonstration at the Progress of Power show that October – 200 people worked around the clock in three shifts to meet the deadline. The van was used because back then the technology was huge – and they needed the entire load space. Over the years, GM continued to work on the technology and partnered with Honda since 2013 – for example delivering the military-grade Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 we saw earlier this month.