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Hydrogen fuel cell hums to life

Dec 29, 2000 - CBC

Dearborn, Michigan - The auto industry is very excited about the prototype of Ford's latest Focus. That's because of what's under the hood – hydrogen fuel cells to provide energy for an electric motor.

Instead of releasing exhaust fumes, this car releases steam, from a rear vent. There's no need for a muffler; the car literally hums to life and is powered by an electric drive train system – similar to an electric battery.

But there's no need to re-charge the car. Instead, you fill it up with compressed hydrogen.

The fuel cells rest behind the back seats

Test engineer Brian Gillespey says the technology is cutting edge. "We have the potential here to basically change the way we drive vehicles and power them. And go to a completely clean way of driving."

Gillespey says all the major automotive companies are looking at the technology. They're working on partnerships with the big oil companies in order to head towards what's being called 'the hydrogen economy.'

Canadian connection

A Vancouver-based company, Ballard, manufactures fuel cells to power the electric drive. It's part of an alliance with Ford Motor Company and Daimler-Chrysler.

Ford says the new Focus is a go for production and will be part of its fleet in the year 2004.