The company calls its underpinnings a "skateboard chassis" - that's what it looks like - and Shabana lauded the design freedom it affords.I have to admit to being disappointed with the Sequel car, which turned out to be a great Jeep-shaped 4x4. At Powertrain, Shabana explained that customers appear to like the familiar and don't go for inconvenience. To give the Sequel a 300-mile range, it needs three large tanks of hydrogen, so it is big enough to hide them under the floor without losing luggage space. As gas prices soar, even Americans are starting to look at alternatives. The speakers included chief engineers from GM, Nissan, DaimlerChrysler, Honda and BMW, which prefers the idea of burning hydrogen in a normal engine.I also spoke to the chief executive of Ballard in Vancouver, Dennis Campbell. Ballard makes fuel cells, so Campbell naturally believes that FCVs are way better than sliced bread and more fun than conventional cars.For a start, he says, because it won't have a great lump of engine, an FCV could have a 50/50 weight distribution for perfectly balanced handling. Performance won't be a problem, and all its torque is available from standing: "You can really squeal the tyres."Everything would be controlled electrically, from steering and suspension to the wheels, which could be powered by individual motors.
FCVs could program in desirable driving behaviour, and your family saloon could become a taut sports machine at the flick of a switch.Dr Mohsen Shabana, chief engineer of GM's Sequel fuel-cell project, expanded on this in Ann Arbor GM revealed the Sequel in January. A fuel cell the size of an automotive air-conditioning unit takes hydrogen and oxygen and combines them to create electricity and water. Magic! So are there really huge technical problems involved in making a fuel-cell vehicle, or FCV? Or is it just that vested interests - such as the oil industry - don't want you to have one?To find out, I snuck into the Powertrain Congress in Ann Arbor, near Detroit. The media relations man warned me: "They won't be making it simple for journalists. There's a lot of algebra." I said I'd cope.This was the first time the congress had devoted an entire session to fuel cells and hydrogen-based propulsion. I got out of my car and, distracted by a piece of cheesecake, forgot to put the handbrake on. Unfortunately, I had also locked the car so could not jump in when the car started to roll backwards I watched it gain speed and crash into a barn.
It was very odd watching it all, rather like watching a stunt.. I always tended to side with Mulder rather than Scully, and I always believe in conspiracies if they involve profit for big business. So: what is keeping non-polluting fuel-cell cars from the market? DaimlerChrysler has just unveiled yet another fuel-cell prototype, to go with operational vehicles from themselves, Honda and others The technology works. I'm now on my second Toyota 4Runner.My worst crash: I was the spectator of my worst crash. I had just finished a day's hunting and felt exhausted and very hungry. They were statements that he knew could only ever be vindicated and never refuted.I could just as easily say that there will be a murder in west London within the foreseeable future.