Hundreds of drivers from everyday people to business executives, policy makers and even celebrities will be taking part in the most extensive field test to date for hydrogen-powered vehicles, as General Motors (GM) allows the public to test drive its Chevrolet Equinox fleet.

The Chevrolet Equinox uses a hydrogen fuel cell to power an electric motor to propel the car and for 33 months from next year onwards, hundreds of test drivers from New York, California and Washington D.C. will take turns in a fleet of around 100 Equinoxes.

Most of the test-drivers have not yet been selected and the test programme may be extended to Long Island if GM is able to set-up a refuelling station there in the future.

The Equinoxes fuel cells make electricity from oxygen in the air and hydrogen stored on board the vehicle, with the only by-products being heat and water vapour.

Mike Lelli, programme manager for the electric Equinox, enthusiastically said, “It’s as real as Chevrolet. It’s here – we’ve got the technology.”

The clean and fuel efficient Equinox apparently has a refuelling range of 150 miles on the tanks’ total of 9.3 pounds of hydrogen and the fuel economy is twice that of a conventional Equinox. General Motors has orchestrated a promotional campaign for the vehicle and its test drive initiative in recent weeks and is promising a decision on future commercial production in around 2 years time.