Electric powered vehicles are widely perceived to be the way forward for personal transport. Fuel cell vehicles, which create electricity by combining hydrogen with oxygen, offer many advantages over traditional battery-based systems thanks to the relatively energy-dense storage of hydrogen in tanks. However, the biggest hurdle to a hydrogen fueled society remains a lack of infrastructure, something that could potentially cost tens of billions of dollars.

That’s a problem utility companies and automakers alike are hoping to alleviate. In fact, General Motors, one of the biggest proponents of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, is conducting a trial of fuel cell vehicles together with Hawaii's The Gas Company in the Island state.

The two companies plan to create an infrastructure of hydrogen refueling stations to support GM’s test fleet on the island of Oahu. There will be about 50 vehicles in total supplied by GM and the first of these is already in operation. The Gas Company, meanwhile, will provide hydrogen fuel to local fuel stations around the island, each of which will have to upgrade its pumps at a cost of between $300,000 and $500,000 per pump.

GM’s first fuel cell vehicle is expected to go on sale by 2015. It will have a range of roughly 300 miles and will be able to be refueled in about three minutes.

[The Detroit News]