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Annual road rally will highlight advances in fuel-cell technology: Hydrogen powered vehicles near consumer readiness

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sacramento, Calif.—Today the California Air Resources Board announced the 2009 Hydrogen Road Tour, an annual road rally to demonstrate the advancements in fuel-cell technology, will begin May 26 in San Diego, and end June 3 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Organized by the ARB, California Fuel Cell Partnership, National Hydrogen Association, US Fuel Cell Council and Powertech Labs, Inc. (on behalf of British Columbia), the tour will travel more than 1,700 miles and have 28 stops. The public will be invited to test drive the vehicles and experience first hand their range, performance and road readiness.

"Fuel cell technology is on the verge of becoming a practical alternative to burning gasoline," said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "This year's road tour demonstrates how far the industry has come and how near we are to putting these cars in the public's hands."

Currently, 300 fuel-cell vehicles have been placed on California roads and manufacturers expect to increase that to 4,300 by 2014. Fuel cell technology is also being used to power transit buses and forklifts, and to produce electricity for industrial uses. Examples of these will be showcased at some of the tour's stops.

California is a proponent of diversifying the fuels used to power transportation. As part of ARB's 2006-2007 budget, the California legislature allotted $25 million for the purposes of encouraging the use of biofuels and high efficiency, low-emitting vehicle technologies. These funds were used to support projects that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gasA gas in Earth's atmosphere that traps heat and can contribute to global warming. Carbon dioxide and methane are two GHGs. emissions by using alternative fuels.

In April 2009, ARB adopted a low carbon fuel standard fulfilling Governor Schwarzenegger's 2007 executive order. The regulation is aimed at driving down greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, which accounts for 40 percent of the state's total emissions of climate changing gases. To achieve this goal 20 percent of petroleum used in California cars will be replaced with clean alternatives, including electricity, biofuels, hydrogen and other options by 2020.

Recently, the Air Resources Board awarded Mebtahi Station Services, San Francisco Airport, Shell Hydrogen and UCLA $1.7 million each to supplement the construction of hydrogen refueling stations. When these stations are constructed the amount of hydrogen available to the public will be double.

"I'd like to congratulate the partnership, the individual auto manufacturers working to develop these cars and the companies installing needed refueling stations," Nichols added. "Their great progress secures our energy independence and defends the environment."