Mazda starts leasing hydrogen hybrid mini-van

To further its research into new powertrain technology, Mazda began leasing a series hybrid vehicle with a hydrogen-fueled range extending engine to energy companies and local governments.

Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid
Mazda's new test vehicle uses a series hybrid powertrain. Mazda

To further its research into new powertrain technology, Mazda began leasing a series hybrid vehicle with a hydrogen-fueled range extending engine to energy companies and local governments. This type of test leasing helps automakers gain useful data on how cars operate in a controlled setting, and ensures that the vehicles' drivers have hydrogen filling stations available.

Although the powertrain configuration is similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt, a series hybrid using an electric motor to power the wheels and a range-extending engine to generate electricity, Mazda puts its own twist on the system, with a hydrogen-burning rotary engine as a range extender. Mazda previously developed an RX-8 using a rotary engine that burned hydrogen, calling it the RX-8 Hydrogen RE. BMW has also explored burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine with the Hydrogen 7 .

Mazda's new vehicle is called the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, and is built on the five passenger Premacy platform. It has a 110 kilowatt motor to turn the wheels, which gets juice from a lithium ion battery pack. When the battery runs low, the rotary engine kicks in to generate electricity, drawing hydrogen from a 5,000 PSI tank. As configured, the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid gets a range of 125 miles.

The car includes a dual fuel system, making it possible to use gasoline if no hydrogen is available.

 

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