Chicago Transit Authority Concludes Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration Program

March 23, 2000
03/23/00

Ballard Power Systems, XCELLSIS Fuel Cell Engines Inc., and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced today the successful conclusion of the world's first fuel cell bus demonstration and testing program after two years of operation.

"This very successful program proves that hydrogen fuel cells can power transit buses in the daily grind of revenue service," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "There's no question that these buses performed well in the heat of summer and the chill of winter. This program has benefited the CTA, our customers, our employees, and the city of Chicago."

During the past two years, three buses powered by Ballard? fuel cells have clocked more than 5,000 hours in revenue service, covered over 30,000 miles, carried more than 100,000 passengers, and emitted nothing more than water vapour. Later this year, XCELLSIS and Ballard will complete a second two-year program involving another three buses in revenue service in Vancouver, Canada. The demonstration programs were initiated by Ballard with XCELLSIS assuming responsibility for them following the formation of XCELLSIS as part of the fuel cell engine alliance between DaimlerChrysler, Ford and Ballard.

"As a pioneer in the use of fuel cell technology, the Chicago Transit Authority has contributed directly to advancements in fuel cell engines now being used in both cars and buses," said XCELLSIS President Dr. Ferdinand Panik. "Our experience in Chicago enabled the design and construction of the next generation fuel cell engine that is simpler in design, easier to maintain, and half the weight of the engines used in the Chicago buses."

A bus using the new XCELLSIS pre-commercial fuel cell engine will enter revenue service in Palm Springs, California this summer as the first vehicle delivered under the California Fuel Cell Partnership. Under the partnership, 25 buses and 30 cars will hit the streets of California for testing and demonstration between 2000 and 2003.

"The program was successful because we achieved all of our objectives and have already moved on to the next step in fuel cell engine development," said Firoz Rasul, Ballard's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "A commercial fuel cell bus engine is now just two years away."

The Chicago and Vancouver field trial programs were designed to allow XCELLSIS and Ballard to gather data for use in the design and development of commercial XCELLSIS heavy-duty fuel cell engines and Ballard fuel cells. Additional objectives for all participants included assessing public reaction to fuel cell powered buses and buses fuelled with hydrogen, determining the needs of transit authorities and users of the buses, and gathering data on their performance and maintenance from the drivers and mechanics.

Driver and passenger reaction to the program and the buses was positive. Drivers reported a smooth, quiet ride, absence of fumes and good acceleration. They also said passengers included visitors to Chicago who had made a point of riding a fuel cell powered bus during their stay.

The Chicago Transit Authority operates the second largest public transportation system in the United States and covers the City of Chicago and 38 surrounding suburbs. On an average weekday, 1.5 million rides are taken on the CTA. CTA has approximately 1,900 buses that operate over 130 routes and 1,932 route miles. Buses make over one million passenger trips a day and serve 12,000 posted bus stops. CTA's approximately 1,100 rapid transit cars operate over seven routes and 289 miles of track. CTA trains make about 1,434 trips each day and serve 140 stations.

XCELLSIS GmbH is based in Nabern, Germany and is a result of an alliance formed between DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company and Ballard Power Systems. It is responsible for the development and manufacture of fuel cell engines for automobiles, buses and trucks. Its subsidiary, XCELLSIS Fuel Cell Engines Inc., is based in Vancouver, Canada, and is responsible for the development of fuel cell engines for heavy-duty applications. Its first product to be developed is for transit buses.

Ballard Power Systems is the world leader in developing, manufacturing and marketing zero-emission proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells for use in transportation, electricity generation and portable power products. Ballard Power Systems? proprietary fuel cell technology is enabling automobile, electrical equipment and portable power product manufacturers to develop environmentally clean products for sale. The fundamental component of these end-user products is the Ballardfuel cell that combines hydrogen (which can be obtained from methanol, natural gas or petroleum) and oxygen (from air) without combustion to generate electricity. Ballard is partnering with strong, world-leading companies, including DaimlerChrysler, Ford, GPU International, ALSTOM and EBARA, to commercialize Ballard fuel cells. Ballard has also supplied fuel cells to General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Yamaha, Cinergy and Matsushita Electric Works, among others.

For Ballard media information, please contact:
Debby Harris
Ballard Power Systems Inc.
9000 Glenlyon Parkway
Burnaby, BC, Canada V5J 5J9
Tel: 604.412.4740
Fax: 604.412.3100

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