Chevys Equinox, the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV, was the guest of honor at the press conference on Friday marking the opening of ECOFEST in New York City. This was the vehicles first public unveiling, although the official launch of the Equinox will be in late October. As part of a market test called Project Driveway, Chevy will be loaning 110 of these cars to people in areas that already have hydrogen-fueling infrastructure, like New York, California and Washington DC.
Contestants had to submit essays stating why they should win a lease on one of the rare concept vehicles, which cost an estimated $1 million to build. The main advantages of the Equinox are that its free of harmful emissions (the only byproduct is pure water) and not reliant on fossil fuels. Currently, the disadvantages are that the vehicles are made individually at great cost (a fact that will change when and if they go into mass production) and hydrogen fuel stations are few and far between. New York City residents, for instance, will have to drive about 30 miles, all the way to White Plains, to load up their tanks with enough juice to travel the next 200 miles.
The current model is a market test vehicle and is unavailable for retail sales; but Chevy claims that the cost of the Equinox will be competitive (One wonders with what: The Maserati? The Prius?) when mass-produced. —Saba Berhie