CONCEPT. GM Hy-Wire Concept (2002)

The GM Hy- wire (called for Hydrogen and propulsion control by wire) is the first running prototype of a revolutionary automobile architecture introduced with Autonomy earlier in 2002. This new architecture utilizes an aluminium structure 27 cm (11 in.) thick and 5 meter long and that contain all the propulsion system. The Hy-wire chassis holds hydrogen storage tank at the centre, a transverse electric motor at the front and driving the front wheels, while the fuel cell is located in front of the rear wheel axle. This revolutionary structure, similar to a skateboard also contains the propulsion commands by electricity, hence, the definition of control by wire. Several body styles can be fitted or bolted to the skate-board; a single docking port provides the electrical connection between the chassis and the body.

The GM Hy-wire “body on frame” concept represents a futuristic luxury sedan that can convey 5 adults. The shape is simple and monolithic with ample glass surfaces; the front and rear panels are also made of glass in order to create a see through vision that illustrate the advantages of the new flat chassis concept. The body is made of steel and fiberglass reinforced composite. It was designed by GM styling centre in the U.S. and built by Bertone in Italy.

Hy-wire weighs 1.900 kg (4.180 pounds) with 20 inch tires in front and 22 inch tyres in the rear. Putting all technical elements into the chassis provides a low centre of gravity, giving the architecture both a high safety and driving dynamic potential. Passive safety requirements will be fulfilled using impact-absorbing elements, so-called crash boxes, at a later stage of development.

The fuel cell system produces a continuously available 94 kW ( peak 129 kW) and was prepared by GM research facility in Mainz-Kastel, Germany based on the unit developed for Opel Zafira GM HydroGen 3 . Three cylindrical hydrogen storage tanks (5.000 psi – pounds per square inch or 350 bars) are located centrally in the chassis and are made of carbon composite material.

The by-wire technology was developed by SKF in Sweden. The system drives by wire, brakes by wire and steers by wire. All these major driver control functions are consolidated in a hand-controlled unit called the X-drive, which replaces the usual round steering wheel, giving drivers the option to brake and accelerate with either right or left hand; there are no pedal, just hand grips on the X-drive, very similar in function to a motorcycle handlebar, but with electrical connections.

During the presentation at the Paris Motor Show in September 2002, Larry Burns, vice president for research and development and planning declared: “We are really serious about putting the technology contained in Hy-wire into production by 2010”

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