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Part II: Tomorrow’s Technology > Fuel Cell and Drive-By-Wire Cars: General Moto...

Chapter 49. Fuel Cell and Drive-By-Wire Cars: General Motors Hy-wire

If the Segway HT can be thought of as reinventing single-person transportation, the GM Hy-wire can be thought of as reinventing the entire automobile, and perhaps even the entire automotive industry. Using hydrogen fuel cells for power combined with drive-bywire technology for human operation, it is redefining what’s possible for tomorrow’s cars. This breakthrough technology will enable the cars of the future to be more environmentally friendly, safer, customizable, and easier to drive.

The Hy-wire was first introduced in late 2002 at the Paris Motor Show. With the two innovations of hydrogen fuel cells and drive-bywire technology combined into a single working prototype, it radically changes the game for consumer transportation (Figure 49-1; Plate 18). One of the first areas to consider is the actual layout of the vehicle. The hydrogen fuel cells and other drivetrain components are mounted in a skateboard-style chassis that’s only 11 inches thick and tapers down to 7 inches thick at its edges. Given this low profile and low center-of-gravity chassis-type, various body styles can be literally snapped onto the chassis based upon driver preference. To snap on different body styles to the chassis, there are 10 mechanical attachments that serve to actually hold the chassis in place, and just one electrical attachment between the body and the chassis. This has the effect of decoupling “form” and “function” for the vehicle. The function of the vehicle is elegantly packaged and self-contained in the skateboard-style chassis, and the form of the vehicle is added as a snap-on extra based upon personal preference.


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