Speed record for fuel cell Ford
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