Virgin Atlantic, one of the world's leading long-haul airlines, and General Motors, the world's largest automaker, today announced that the airline will offer passengers a zero-emissions Chevrolet Equinox Hydrogen Fuel Cell car as part of its Upper Class limo service. Initially passengers in Los Angeles will take part in the trial which will not only enable them to experience the next generation of cars but also reduce their carbon footprint. The hydrogen fuel cell limo service is expected to be extended to New York City later this year.
Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic, commented: "Our mission to be the sustainable airline is clear, both on the ground and in the air. Partnerships such as this with General Motors show that we are pioneering in the aviation industry when it comes to reducing emissions at every stage of our passengers' journey."
"We are calling upon governments worldwide, not just the UK and US, to assist businesses by building hydrogen filling stations in key cities so that drivers can fill up their cars more easily. As a first step, existing filling stations could add renewable energy pumps alongside other fuel pumps. This new technology will only become commonplace if businesses and drivers are incentivized to adopt it quickly, and that's where governments need to play a major role." As part of the Upper Class flight experience, Virgin Atlantic travelers receive complimentary transportation to and from the airport in Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicles. Initially three Equinox vehicles will become part of the fleet of cars used to transport Upper Class passengers to and from Los Angeles International Airport.
The partnership is the latest in the airline's sustainability efforts. Utilizing the Equinox Fuel Cell vehicle as part of the Upper Class automotive fleet will not only reduce the airline's overall carbon output, but more importantly, will serve as an important real world market test. It will enable GM to get practical customer feedback from drivers and passengers.
Dr. Larry Burns, Vice-President for Planning and R&D at General Motors, commented:
"This is a great partnership. Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin brand are globally-recognized, and Virgin Atlantic customers are educated and influential people concerned about the environment. This business partnership is an important piece of the Project Driveway program. The Virgin Atlantic team will help us learn a great deal about how fuel cell vehicles perform in an every-day commercial environment." Powered by GM's fourth-generation fuel cell propulsion system, the Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicle is a fully-functional crossover vehicle. Fuel cell technology and hydrogen fuel represents a step change for the automotive industry and will substantially reduce the industry's impact on the environment. This initiative is part of GM's Project Driveway, the largest market test of its kind, which is currently launching 100 Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles to streets and driveways in California, New York and Washington DC. Additional market tests are planned for Europe and Asia, beginning later this year.
As an alternative to its limousine service, Virgin Atlantic also offers its Upper Class passengers the option of taking public transport, the Heathrow or Gatwick Express, when arriving in or departing from the UK.