Hydrogen Cars Make Cross Country Trek

A fleet of hydrogen powered cars, from Mercedes to Nissan to Volkswagen, will travel nearly 2,000 miles between Chula Vista and Vancouver. The vehicles will travel 1,700 miles as part of the 2009 "Hydrogen Road Tour", which is organized by the California Air Resources Board and held to promote fuel cell technology.

"We are very proud of what we have here," said John Tillman, head of Volkswagen Advanced Power train Research Program. "They are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. They convert hydrogen directly to electricity and essentially what you have is pure electric vehicles and the only byproduct of the process is water." Organizers say the car is so earth-friendly that you can even drink the water from the tailpipe, although it may taste a little bitter.

Volkswagen has been working on this particular project since about 1998. The cars that will make the cross-county trek took about 40 engineers approximately six months to build. But, Tillman said, that when they are ready for mass production of these vehicles, it'll be a very different story.

These cars are similar to their gas-guzzling relatives; you find a gas station that has hydrogen, fill it up and you're on your way again. Tillman also says that the engines are very different and you won't hear any noise while driving these cars, but you will have a very smooth acceleration and no shifting. There is no set time line for when Volkswagen will release these cars, but other companies like Honda are leasing the vehicles now.

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