GM's hydrogen cars headed for Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

GM's hydrogen cars headed for Hawaii

Alex Keros Alex Keros

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A state known for high gas prices is becoming the go to spot for alternative fuel options.  Just days after Korean manufacturer CT&T tapped Hawaii to build electric cars, General Motors announced a deal with The Gas Company to bring hydrogen powered cars to Hawaii.

The deal is significant because it not only brings the cars to Hawaii it also works on a way to fill them up.

It looks like a car and drives like a car, but it does not guzzle gas like a car and General Motors says its hydrogen fuel cell car doesn't sacrifice fun.

"A lot of time people go well it's an electric vehicle it's a golf cart, well you're talking about a car that goes 0 to 60 in about nine seconds.  You can go check Motor Trend and Road and Track those guys all did it," said Alex Keros, General Motors Senior Project Engineer.

Keros says the car can go 100 miles per hour and travel 200 miles on four gallons of hydrogen.

"You're driving a small SUV that you can fit your entire family in and be able to brag that you are getting 50 to 60 miles per gallon equivalent," said Keros.

With no combustible engine breaking down fuel the car is extremely quiet and the exhaust is just water vapor.

"What you hear there is a little bit of a spaceship swoosh," said Keros, referring to the engine as he started it up.

So how do you fill it up?  That's where the partnership with The Gas Company comes in.  They will put hydrogen pumps at a limited number of gas stations that are willing to invest $300,000 to $500,000 to add a pump.  Then hydrogen car users can fill up like normal car users.  Since The Gas Company is regulated the equivalent of a gallon of hydrogen should cost about the same as a gallon of regular unleaded gas.

"We are tremendously excited because it's another way to serve this community and we've been here for about 105 years and we'd like to be here serving the next generation of fuel users in our community," said Jeff Kissel, The Gas Company CEO.

"Right now we have about 5% hydrogen in our gas. It's made from reclaimed waste water and it improves the burning qualities in our gas and reduces pollution," said Kissel.

Now The Gas Company is moving toward making the hydrogen out of fats and oils and pulling hydrogen out of landfill gas to create energy from the waste.

"It's a savings and it puts Hawaii in the forefront of energy reclamation technology in the nation," said Kissel.

As for the cost of the car, GM doesn't have a price tag yet, but it wants to sell a lot of them and says they will be comparable to other gas powered cars that fit the middle class family's budget. 

The company's news release says GM is developing a production intent fuel cell system that could be ready for commercialization in 2015. 

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