After 38 days, Vauxhall’s Zafira-based fuel cell prototype, HydroGen3, has completed its record-breaking journey across Europe.

Having left Hammerfest in northern Norway, the car reached Cabo da Roca, Portugal – the most westerly point of Europe – on 9th June having covered 9,696 kilometres – double the previous distance record for a fuel cell car.

The trip proved the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles, although some running repairs had to be made during the trip – a software update at the beginning of the tour, the replacement of five temperature sensors and the exchange of the mechanical parking mechanism.

Dr Udo Winter, Chief Engineer at GM Fuel Cell Activities, commented: “The long-distance drive went very smoothly indeed. It shows that the level of reliability attained by the fuel cell propulsion system in the HydroGen3 is already very high. We also gained a lot of new findings from the tough day-to-day marathon schedule.”

During the vehicle’s two-day visit to London, David Jamieson, Minister for Transport said: “Seeing this vehicle in operation gives us hope for the future. We must now work in partnership to ensure that this technology is brought to market soon.”

GM and Vauxhall have set themselves the target of developing a fuel cell propulsion system by 2010 that compares with combustion engine vehicles in terms of costs, performance and durability.

Larry Burns, GM Vice President for Research, Development and Planning commented: “Only if we reach a high volume of vehicles will the benefits of the fuel cell technology for the environment become apparent and its contribution to winning independence from mineral oil really be felt.”