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by Mike Zazaian October 4, 2006 - 10:20am, 1 Comment

A prototype of the fuel-cell Equinox from GM

General motors is producing a home-based hydrogen refueling unit that could make the mass production of hydrogen-fueled cars plausible as early as 2011.

According to GM such home-based refueling units would sit in the garage, and could refuel a fuel-cell vehicle overnight. The units, which use either electricity or solar energy to produce hydrogen, would eliminate the need to build large-scale hydrogen refueling stations, one of the major roadblocks for the mass production of fuel-cell vehicles.

Because such a small amount of hydrogen cars will be in circulation over the next few years, the number of consumers using such stations wouldn’t be enough to offset the $2 million cost. GM’s product, on the other hand, allows a small-scale per-consumer solution that would allow for a mobilization of hydrogen refueling that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with large-scale stations. GM hasn’t set on an exact price for the units, but claims they’ll be affordable.

Announcement of the portable refueling stations come amid GM’s plans to roll out 100 fuel-cell Chevrolet Equinox SUV models in 2007. The fuel-cell models will be available to consumers in New York, Washington DC, and California, areas where there are currently the highest number of commercial hydrogen refueling stations. The home-based refueling units would likely be available for purchase next year alongside the fuel-cell Equinoxes, allowing fuel-cell ownership to those who don’t live in close proximity to the commercial stations. If initial tests go well GM could decide to mass-market fuel-cell vehicles as early as 2011.

[via Fuelcellsworks.com]