The limits of hydrogen-fueled transportation have been tested this past week during the Hydrogen Road Tour 2009. On May 26, a fleet of 12 hydrogen-powered cars and trucks left the U.S. Olympics Training Center in Chula Vista, California on its way to Vancouver. The Hydrogen Road Tour 2009 will reach the Vancouver Convention Centre by 10:00am this morning with every vehicle available for public inspection until 2:00pm. The road tour acts as an educational tour among American and Japanese automakers that are ready to rollout their hydrogen-fuel vehicles.
The Hydrogen Road Tour 2009 benefitted from the considerable resources of the California Fuel Cell Partnership, Powertech Labs, the U.S. Fuel Cell Council and the National Hydrogen Association. These groups coordinated on a weeklong itinerary stopping at 28 locations in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Visitors to the San Francisco International Airport (May 28), Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (May 31) and the University of Washington (June 2) were able to view the fleet and ask questions of the drive team. The 1,700-mile journey to Vancouver highlights the green bona fides of the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver residents will see hydrogen, hybrid and electric cars zooming on their streets as the Opening Ceremonies approach.
The fleet of hydrogen vehicles used during the Hydrogen Road Tour 2009 shows promise for the next generation of automotive technology. Japan’s automakers were well represented during the tour with the Honda FCX Clarity, Toyota FCHV-adv Highlander and Nissan X-Trail traveling the distance. The Hyundai Tucson FCEV and the Kia Borrego FCEV represented the booming auto market in South Korea. Chevy’s Equinox Fuel Cell may have been the lone American representative in the fleet but it shows the future of the American auto industry if it survives its current troubles. The fleet also included German-made Volkswagen Hymotions and the Mercedes F-Cells to represent the full scope of hydrogen fuel cell technology.
The tour’s sponsors recognized the limitations of hydrogen transportation when it arranged for a mobile fueling station to make the northward journey. The Hydrogen Road Tour 2009 at one time shows the existence of auto technology and the absence of hydrogen fueling infrastructure. The demonstration of hydrogen fuel cell technology during the tour will be amplified by global scrutiny on the 2010 Winter Olympics. Hydrogen cars, trucks and SUVs will be delayed in the American market by the slow grind of infrastructure development over the next ten to twelve years.