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VW Runs H2 Touran in Rally

Touran

VW is running a H2 fuel cell version of its best-selling Touran compact van in the third annual California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) Road Rally.

Other rally participants include the DaimlerChrysler F-Cell; Ford Focus FCV; GM HydroGen3; Honda FCX; Hyundai Santa Fe FCEV; Nissan FCV; and Toyota FCHV.

The Touran HyMotion uses an 80 kW electric motor powered by a PEM fuel cell. The motor accelerates the hydrogen van from 0 to 60 mph in 14 seconds, and reaches a top speed of 84 mph.

It stores its hydrogen gas at 350 bar (5,000 psi)—half that of current production state-of-the-art, which is 700 bar or 10,000 psi. The hydrogen Touran has a range of approximately 96 miles. Its 1.9 kWh nickel-metal hybrid battery is recharged via the fuel cell or regenerative braking.

In 2000, Volkswagen showed a hydrogen fuel cell version of its Bora sedan at the opening of the CaFCP offices. The Bora HyMotion used liquid hydrogen stored onboard at cryogenic temperatures (-253°C). The car had a range of 215 miles.

Although it has consistently been one of the early demonstrators of hydrogen propulsion, and is now building demonstrations of vehicles enhanced with hydrogen fuel cell APUs (earlier post), VW regards it as much more of a long-term solution. What VW would prefer to talk about, in the short- to medium-term, is its strategy of synthetic fuels combined with its advanced diesel and gasoline engine technology.

Indeed, whenever it is involved in a hydrogen event, be it HyForum in Beijing this summer, or the CaFCP Road Rally, VW will hit its talking points on synthetic fuels.

From its participation in HyForum this summer:

It is likely that the remaining problems as regards hydrogen storage and infrastructure will be solved in the long term. If the technical and economic obstacles can be overcome, Volkswagen expects to see vehicles with fuel cells powered by hydrogen produced using renewable energy resources alongside vehicles driven by an internal combustion engine. However, mass production is not likely within the next 20 years.

Liquid synthetic fuels thus ideally complement the hydrogen economy of the future. If hydrogen produced using renewable energy sources is added to the BtL [Biomass-to-Liquids] processes, the positive CO2 balance doubles. The first step in the BtL process can also be used to produce hydrogen. This technology thus gives fuel cell systems and the hydrogen economy the time needed to mature and become competitive vis-à-vis advanced internal combustion engines.

The other automaker that has a similar voluble focus on synthetic fuels in DaimlerChrysler. Their positions make sense; especially when one factors in likely future issues with petroleum supply.

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