GM Test-Driving Hydrogen-Powered Car

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General Motors Corp. (GM) has achieved a milestone in its quest to bring a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle to market, announcing that it now has a drivable version of its Sequel concept car.

The Sequel, which looks like a shrunken minivan and has a range of 300 miles, will be shown to reporters next month in California, GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said Thursday during a speech at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.

But production and sale of the Sequel is a long way off. Wagoner wouldn't give a time estimate for when the public could buy one.

"That's rocket science when you get in that car," he said. "This is the most sophisticated product, technologically advanced product, I think we've ever made in the history of GM."

Nearly all automakers are testing hydrogen-powered vehicles, with some in use by government workers.

The testing has received support from a 5-year, $1.2 billion hydrogen initiative first announced by President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address.

The pollution-free technology holds the potential of zero emissions and a sustainable source of energy produced when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed. Experts say they could begin arriving in showrooms by 2020, or perhaps earlier.

But many obstacles exist including the high cost, relatively short range and a lack of fueling stations.