Detroit's Impossible Dream?

Fuel-cell cars on the road by 2004--that's the promise. Now it's crunch time

Two years ago, Bradford B. Bates of Ford Motor Co. predicted he wouldn't live to see cars powered by the space-age devices that are his passion--fuel cells--because that would be three decades in the future. Now Bates, who's 60 and a key fuel-cell researcher at Ford, says he expects to be able to purchase an electric car powered by the devices "before I give up driving." Indeed, he's now striving to fulfill Ford's promise to put a fuel-cell car on the road by 2004. Quips Bates: "I never apologize for being smarter today than I was yesterday."

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