Cook­ing with gas

Mazda is ready to put a hy­dro­gen hy­brid into vol­ume pro­duc­tion, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE car GM be­lieves will re­write the rules for hy­brids has been over­taken be­fore it even hits the road. Mazda has a hi-tech hy­brid which it be­lieves can trump the com­ing GM Volt. It will put it into vol­ume pro­duc­tion, though only on a lease deal for driv­ers, next year.

The Mazda5 hy­brid uses a hy­dro­gen­fu­elled ro­tary en­gine to charge an on-board bat­tery pack, which then makes it a fully elec­tric drive in the same style as the Volt.

The new peo­ple-mover is the start of a big hy­dro­gen push by Mazda. Com­pany chair­man Hisakazu Imaki be­lieves it is the fuel of the fu­ture.

‘‘Trav­el­ling around the world I know there are many peo­ple who be­lieve we will evolve into a hy­dro­gen-based in­dus­try,’’ Imaki said in Syd­ney last week.

‘‘Nor­way is al­ready work­ing on this sort of project. We will be sup­ply­ing a hy­dro­gen­pow­ered Mazda RX-8,’’ he says.

Imaki says the Mazda5 project is much more ad­ven­tur­ous than just con­vert­ing an ex­ist­ing en­gine that runs on un­leaded petrol, and he is keen to see how it works.

‘‘By the end of this fis­cal year we in­tend to start sales on a lease ba­sis,’’ he says.

Mazda plans to cut fuel use by 30 per cent across its range by 2015.

‘‘We are also work­ing to re­duce the en­ergy used in our fac­to­ries. I can proudly say I think our plants are among those that use the least amount of C02 in the world.’’

He says Mazda is push­ing hard to meet emis­sion and econ­omy tar­gets, but is not locked into a sin­gle so­lu­tion.

‘‘We are work­ing on mul­ti­ple so­lu­tions, in­clud­ing hy­brids, to the chal­lenges we face,’’ he says.

‘‘But in your coun­try the use of hy­dro­gen is not too highly eval­u­ated.’’

Imaki says Mazda will present a new tech­nol­ogy at the Paris Mo­tor Show in Oc­to­ber as it pushes for bet­ter ef­fi­ciency in a range of ve­hi­cles.

‘‘It will be some­thing in the pow­er­train area. But that is go­ing to be just a first step,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s some­thing I’m sure will get a strong re­ac­tion.

‘‘For com­pet­i­tive rea­sons, I can’t dis­close the tech­ni­cal so­lu­tion in­volved in achiev­ing it. ‘‘Though it is just the first step, at the Paris show we will be com­ing out with that first step,’’ Imaki says.

Look­ing fur­ther into the fu­ture, he says there is strong po­ten­tial for plug-in elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

‘‘One thing that can be said is a plug-in type of ve­hi­cle is very per­sua­sive and un­der­stand­able, even to a house­wife. And when I say house­wife, I have my own wife in mind.’’

Mazda has em­braced hy­dro­gen power with its Mazda5 (left) and the Mazda RX-8.

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