Mazda's 15-year quest for hydrogen vehicles

The Hydrogen Economy. How many times have we heard that this futuristic nirvana is coming? And why is it always 15-20 years from today? It'll be great when the HE finally gets here and provides clean energy to everyone, but who knows when (or how) the serious technological hurdles will be overcome. While we wait (some more), here's a look at how Mazda spent the past 15 years gearing up for hydrogen vehicles.

Mazda introduced their first hydrogen prototype in 1991 at the Tokyo Motor Show. This vehicle, called the HR-X, was powered by a hydrogen-powered rotary engine. Mazda is still working on putting rotary engines into cars, but is also working, like other automakers, on hydrogen fuel cells. The company's latest hydrogen prototype, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE concept car, was presented at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show. The RX-8 Hydrogen RE is currently being leased (and is not affected by the recent RX-8 recall) to companies and local governments in Japan for 420,000 yen a month (about 3,600 US$ or 2,860 Euros). Mazda, like Ford, believes using hydrogen internal combustion engines are the right next step before we get to hydrogen fuel cells. Mazda says it considers hydrogen well-suited for rotary engines, and the company's long experience with rotary engines means it will lead the pack in introducing hydrogen engines to the market.


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