Fuel cells seem like a fairly recent development in the automotive world, but the engineering and history can be traced back to one single prototype by General Motors. That vehicle was the Electrovan.
To celebrate 50 years of hydrogen fuel cell research and technology, GM has dug back into its archives to remind the world of the Electrovan, a vehicle engineered in response to President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.
How does it connect with putting a man on the moon? The Electrovan was the first successful transfer of fuel cell technology. A 200 person team worked tirelessly to showcase the technology, with a running demo of the Electrovan occurring in October of 1966.
Fast forward to the present and General Motors is still leading the fuel cell charge with a strategic partnership involving Honda. Most recently, Chevrolet introduced the Colorado ZH2, a fuel cell-powered pickup truck to be evaluated by the U.S. Army.
Additional fuel cell programs have helped amass 3.1 million miles of real-world experience, notably with the Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicle.
As for the Electrovan, it was rediscovered in storage in 2001. When it’s not busy being showcased as a historic piece of engineering, it finds a home at the GM Heritage Center.