GM sues trucking company over destroyed hydrogen fuel pump

The United States' hydrogen infrastructure is still in its infant stage - with just 68 fueling stations in the country - meaning the technology is still quite pricey. One trucking company is learning the true value of a hydrogen fuel station as General Motors is suing the freight forwarding firm CHAT of Michigan Inc. for the destruction of an $850,000 hydrogen fuel pump.

In February of 2008, GM hired CHAT of Michigan to transport a hydrogen fuel pump from Pennsylvania to California. The truck carrying the load made it all the way to Kingman, Arizona before the driver encountered a windstorm that forced the truck into a canyon, completely destroying the hydrogen fuel pump. The driver emerged unharmed.

Although CHAT of Michigan claims the windstorm constitutes an act of God and therefore clears the firm of any liability, GM sees it another way. GM claims CHAT of Michigan violated its contract by subcontracting the job to a trucking company named Landstar Ranger, which in turn brokered the load to Professional Trucking LLC.

GM isn't totally without fault, though, as the company failed to put that value of the load on the hydrogen fuel pump's bill of loading. GM also declined additional insurance for the move.

As a result of the mishap, GM's "╦ťProject Driveway' hydrogen initiative -- the largest demonstration of fuel cell vehicles in the world -- was delayed by four months.

GM has been trying to recoup the value of the fuel pump for the last two years, but to no avail. GM is now suing CHAT of Michigan for $850,000 - the value of the fuel pump - plus damages, costs and fees. Given the high value and the number of companies in the mix, we suspect it could be a few more months before the situation is resolved.

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