The Vauxhall Zafira HydroGen3
In a week when oil prices rose sharply, leading to increases in the cost of fuel, Vauxhall’s Fuel Cell Marathon has set a new record for long distance driving in a fuel cell car just over halfway – 5,474 km – through its epic 10,000 km run.

23 days after setting off from Hammerfest in Norway, Vauxhall’s HydroGen3 Zafira reached Darmstadt to set this new long distance record for fuel cell cars.

Vauxhall Chairman and Managing Director Kevin Wale praised the car’s achievement saying: "The fact that the HydroGen3 Zafira has overcome the strains of the Marathon so far without major problems shows that General Motors and Vauxhall are on the right track with the development of marketable fuel cell vehicles."

The stopover at Darmstadt was used to give the HydroGen 3 a pit stop inspection at GM’s nearby fuel cell development centre – GM Fuel Cell Activities (GM FCA) – at Mainz-Kastel. For more in depth analysis, the engineers replaced a number of parts, including the stack.

"The HydroGen 3 has been taken to its limits on many occasions during the first half of the marathon, with dramatic climate changes, a wide variation of road conditions and driving circumstances. We are very proud that there has been no defect that resulted in a failure," said Dr Udo Winter, chief engineer of GM FCA. "At the same time we are learning a great number of things during this day to day on-road test which just can’t be simulated in the laboratory. We started for example with a used stack to ensure maximum information gathering, allowing us to compare the laboratory results with those on the road. This is exactly the kind of experience we hoped to gather during the marathon."

The journey still has to pass through Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. This will be a demanding section, says Bernd Zerbe, an FCA engineer in vehicle testing and validation: "The second half will be particularly interesting because there are mountain stages and much higher outside temperatures."

Published : 02/06/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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