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Shell, GM Partner to Maake Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles a Reality

Washington, D.C., March 5, 2003 – General Motors Corp. and Shell Hydrogen are combining resources to help make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles a commercially viable reality, the two announced today. "The partnership brings together two leaders in hydrogen energy and transportation to take a coordinated, comprehensive approach," said Donald Huberts, chief executive officer of Shell Hydrogen. "By combining GM's expertise in vehicle technology with Shell's leadership in refueling technologies, the initiative represents an important step forward in the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles."

The centerpiece of the partnership will be a real-life demonstration of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and fueling infrastructure technology in the Washington, D.C. area between GM and Shell Hydrogen (U.S.). The demonstration will feature the nation's first hydrogen pump at a Shell retail gas station to support a General Motors Corp. fleet of fuel cell vehicles.

With the combined hydrogen vehicle-fueling station demonstration in Washington as the foundation of the partnership, GM and Shell will together focus on three key areas:

  • Increased awareness and understanding on the part of policymakers, regulators and the general public - via demonstrations of the combined hydrogen technologies in our nation's capitol
  • Knowledge sharing - to combine the expertise from both the vehicle and fueling infrastructure sides, and
  • Experience and learning - from the trial under real-life, real-time conditions

"GM and Shell share a vision that has been made a national priority by President Bush in his State of the Union address," said Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development and planning. "To get there, GM and Shell will provide an entire system - from the generation and distribution of hydrogen to a retail station, and the storage of hydrogen on a vehicle to the actual vehicle itself.

"It's an important learning opportunity, with real vehicles driving in real-world settings," Burns said. "This is very important for the future of our nation. Many of our policy leaders have not had a chance to drive fuel cell vehicles and this gives them that opportunity."

GM has set a stretch target of selling fuel cell vehicles by the end of the decade and hopes to be the first manufacturer to sell 1 million fuel cell vehicles, Burns added.

Under the terms of the MOU between GM and Shell Hydrogen (U.S.), Shell's hydrogen station is expected to be operational by October, 2003, with GM's commitment to use the station for support of its vehicle fleet, which will arrive in Washington DC in May of this year.

"Hydrogen holds great promise as the ultimate fuel," said Shell Hydrogen CEO Huberts. "This clean and abundant energy carrier can be extracted from water or from natural gas. When used in a fuel cell vehicle, the only exhaust is water.

"We want to demonstrate the practical and everyday use of hydrogen fuel," Huberts continued.

"Shell's work with GM will show that filling up the car with hydrogen is as simple and safe as filling up with gasoline."

The partnership builds upon Shell's commitment to hydrogen and other renewable energies. In 1999, Shell Hydrogen was established to pursue and develop business opportunities related to hydrogen and fuel cells. Today, the Shell Hydrogen companies are leading hydrogen producers and innovators in the development of technologies to create a hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Recent Shell and GM initiatives include participation in the California Fuel Cell Partnership, a unique collaboration between the state of California, energy companies and automobile manufacturers to advance hydrogen-fueled vehicles. In addition, Shell Hydrogen recently announced plans for the first hydrogen fueling station in Tokyo, as well as a major hydrogen fuel initiative in Iceland.

Fuel cells use an electrochemical reaction that uses hydrogen and oxygen from air to create electricity to move a vehicle. The demonstration vehicles are GM's HydroGen3 minivan, which is based on the GM's Opel Zafira. The HydroGen3 is powered by a 94-kilowatt fuel cell stack and has enough power to reach 100 miles per hour with crisp acceleration.

Last fall, GM debuted Hy-wire, the world's first drivable vehicle that combines fuel cell and by-wire technology. In another first, a Chevrolet S-10 demonstrated the world's first on-board processor that extracts hydrogen from gasoline to produce electricity. This is a key technology for enabling hydrogen pumps at gas stations, using off-board processors at the pump.

General Motors, the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, designs, builds and markets cars and trucks worldwide and has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM employs about 350,000 people around the world. More GM information can be found at

Shell Hydrogen refers to the companies of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group which are engaged in the pursuit and development of businesses related to hydrogen and fuel cells. Each of the companies, which make up the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies is an independent entity and has its own separate identity. Principal offices are located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with regional bases in Houston and Tokyo. For further information visit

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