Speed record for fuel cell Ford

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Resources -

FORD says a speed record set by the com­pany’s pro­to­type fuel-cell car this week may has­ten the use of the tech­nol­ogy in its ve­hi­cles. The car, pow­ered by hy­dro­gen and an elec­tric mo­tor, reached 207.297 miles per hour (333.612km/h) at the Bon­neville Salt Flats in Wen­dover, Utah, the au­tomaker said.

High-speed per­for­mance is a step to­ward get­ting such pow­er­trains in cars and trucks avail­able to con­sumers, Mu­jeeb Ijaz, Ford’s man­ager of fuel-cell ve­hi­cle en­gi­neer­ing, said in an in­ter­view. ‘‘ If pow­er­trains are go­ing to be real, they will show up at Bon­neville and will show up in rac­ing,’’ he said. ‘‘ Race cars have been where pas­sen­ger-car pow­er­trains have been de­vel­oped.’’

Ford, the sec­ond-big­gest US au­tomaker, and com­peti­tors are un­der pres­sure from gov­ern­ments to re­duce emis­sions and petrol con­sump­tion. Fuel cells gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity in a chem­i­cal process that com­bines hy­dro­gen and oxy­gen, with only wa­ter vapour as a byprod­uct un­der ideal con­di­tions.

The car that Dear­born, Michi­gan-based Ford tested at Bon­neville, the Fu­sion Hy­dro­gen 999, was built to be more aero­dy­namic than pre­vi­ous fuel-cell pro­to­types, Ijaz said.

A fuel-cell ve­hi­cle de­sign for pas­sen­ger cars is ‘‘ still two or three years away,’’ he said.

Car de­sign­ers, driv­ers and race en­thu­si­asts gather an­nu­ally for Speed Week at Bon­neville, the dried lake bed of com­pacted salt that’s ideal for set­ting speed records.

‘‘ It’s a good day for fuel cells and elec­tric drives,’’ said Steve El­lis, man­ager of US sales of Honda’s FCX fuel- cell car. ‘‘ It proves elec­tric drives don’t have to be golf carts.’’

He de­clined to say whether Honda would try to break Ford’s record. Honda leases more than a dozen fuel-cell cars in the US to city fleets, and two to in­di­vid­ual own­ers in Cal­i­for­nia. A new sports-car ver­sion of Honda’s FCX will be leased to US cus­tomers in 2008 with a top speed that’s elec­tron­i­cally lim­ited to 160km/h, El­lis said.

Honda and other au­tomak­ers have said build­ing fuel-cell ve­hi­cles costs about $1 mil­lion each. Com­pa­nies such as Ford and Honda have en­gaged in projects aimed at re­duc­ing the ex­pense.

Toy­ota, Asia’s largest au­tomaker, said in Septem­ber that it was less op­ti­mistic than com­peti­tors about the tech­nol­ogy. Bloomberg

Honda’s FCX: Leased to se­lected cus­tomers

Hot: Ford’s Fu­sion Hy­dro­gen 999 sets a land speed record for a pro­duc­tion-based fuel cell pow­ered car on the Bon­neville salt flats in Utah

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