Fuel Cells Factor in GM, Toyota Discussions

    May 11, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The Japanese automaker, enjoying huge success with its hybrid Prius model, will work with GM on a gas-less venture.

General Motors, seeing its sales of gas-guzzling SUVs drop along with its profits, will expand its research and development of fuel cell technology with Toyota.

The two companies have researched alternative fuels for the past five years, according to a Bloomberg report. Initial rollout of cars powered by fuel cells could happen in five years.

A formal agreement probably won’t be announced anytime soon. Executives from both companies, on the cusp of the 2005 World Expo in central Japan, simply commented that the two automakers have been discussing fuel cells and other topics for some time.

Gas/electric engines, first introduced by Toyota in 1997, are seen as a temporary solution to fossil fuel dependency. Fuel cell technology works on a hydrogen reaction with oxygen that creates enough energy to power an engine.

Fuel cell research could have been supplanted in favor of hybrid engine development for GM. CEO Rick Wagoner dismissed hybrid technology in favor of work on fuel cells in 2002, a gaffe that looks horrifying to GM investors now.

Rising gas prices have made Toyota’s Prius a hot item commanding premium prices. GM now has loads of SUVs with very few buyers on top of a debt downgrade to junk status and the potential for Kirk Kerkorian’s investment to become a takeover bid instead.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.