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Morgan to Introduce Hydrogen Fuel Cell LIFECar at Geneva

Sketch of the LIFECar.

Morgan Motor will stage the world debut of its hydrogen fuel cell powered LIFECar at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show (6-16 March).

The LIFECar is powered by a 22 kW fuel cell sized to meet the constant load requirement of cruising (about 20% of peakpower) and as a result significant weight and cost reductions have been made over other designs. The fuel cell, from QinetiQ, operates at 45% efficiency.

The chassis of the LIFECar. Click to enlarge.

The LIFECar features 4 electric motor/generators, each connected directly to a driving wheel. The motors support regenerative braking. The recaptured energy is stored in a bank of ultracapacitors.

Cranfield University developed the vehicle management systems. They have also developed a solution to seamlessly switch the electronic brakes to a conventional hydraulic system at very low speeds.

LIFECar has been engineered to deliver energy consumption equivalent to 1.8 liters gasoline equivalent per 100km (131 mpg US) with a top speed potential of 80-85 mph, a 0-62 time of under 7 seconds and a 250-mile range.

Collaborators on the LIFECar project are Oscar Automotive, Cranfield University, QinetiQ, Oxford University, Linde AG and Morgan Motor Company.

Along with other models to be shown in Geneva, Morgan will also introduce the 4/4 Sport. Powered by a 115 bhp 1.6 liter Ford Sigma engine, the car has CO2 emissions below 140g/km.


Mark A

Now this is what we need, after a refueling infrastructure is set up. The key to battery powered and/or hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles is light weight and smooth aerodynamics. Offer this type of vehicle at a similar price to ice engines and this could be a hit. Also, love the styling!


45% efficiency.

Almost as good as the VW 1.2 TDi from the 3L!


Morgan’s vehicles don’t come cheap though. They start at $100.000. The efficiency is not impressive. The Honda fcx does 60%. However, if this particular 45% fuel cell is much more affordable then the efficiency issue is less important. Morgan is wise to use a downsized range extender (20-25% of needed for peek power) it is the economically correct way to proceed for PHEVs. I assume it is a PHEV because it will need a large battery to get peak performance. I may be wrong. Current fuel cell cars like Honda are wrong when they believe the fuel cell should do 100% of peak performance. This is crazy given the high cost of fuel cells and the comparatively low cost of batteries.

Leo Wells


Why doesn't someone fasten a container of water under the hood, put two electrodes into the water, run one to the ignition and the other to a ground. THAT WILL GENERATE HYDROGEN. A tube can carry the Hydrogen to the motor.



I discovered something interesting when checking out QuinetiQ. They say they are capable of producing PEM fuel cells / hydrogen storage systems with an energy density of 2000Wh/kg! That I believe is much better than the best gasoline engine / gasoline tanks systems. If they use such a system for the Morgan vehicle the fuel cell plus hydrogen storage would be 20 kg for a 40kWh system! That sounds incredible. Must be an error.


Now I saw the reason. It is likely a primary hydrogen storage system. It can only be used once. Not useful for common transportation.


@Leo Wells-

Second law of thermodynamics.


"The LIFECar is powered by a 22 kW fuel cell sized to meet the constant load requirement of cruising (about 20% of peakpower)"

In other words it operates as a hydrogen-powered series hybrid, with ultracaps to deliver the power needed for bursts of acceleration.


Finally, somebody is taking the right approach with fuel cells. Henrik, you correct to point out that the efficiency loss could be overcome by cost savings. If you are familiar with fuel cell technology, you'll know that the efficiency decreases with increasing power. Honda, GM, etc. size their stacks to provide ~100% of the load, so on average at mid to low power, the efficiency is very high. By sizing this fuel cell appropriately, Morgan is able to run at peak power, but "only" 45% efficiency. The stack is 20% as large as Honda's, so is the 80% cost reduction worth 15% efficiency? I would think so, plus when considering the ultracap regeneration and battery supply, the vehicle efficiency under a normal driving cycle would likely be much higher.

Small "range extenders" are the only economical option for fuel I can't wait to see how fast this disappears under the veil of those who stand to lose...


The 85 mph top speed would not bother me, but some people like to say that their car can go faster. These are details that marketing people at car companies debate about. Will someone buy a car with a top speed of 85 mpg? Probably some would, but will enough buy it to make some money?


@Henrik: Gasoline / Diesel have an energy density of about 10 MWh/kg; I very much doubt that any hydrogen-based powertrain system will ever reach the same total energy density as gasoline based systems. But that's beside the point: increasing the overall efficiency is the point; 45 or 60% FC efficiency might sound great when compared to the peak efficiency of ICEs (35-40%), but the overall fuel cycle of hydrogen will never be competitive with direct electric drive; the only real hurdle for electric drive systems is the energy storage systems. Instead of sinking huge amounts of public money in deep corporate pockets for (closed) hydrogen research, funding development of advanced batteries would be much more viable.

BTW: have a look at or innocentive for "open" research / IP sharing...


The 85 mph top speed would not bother me, but some people like to say that their car can go faster.

In some locations, such as here in Atlanta, being able to drive 85 is a matter of life and death; I hit that on my way back from lunch today, and I wasn't passing many people.


That is the point. What are the perceived and actual requirements for a passenger car? Does it have to go 100 mph? Does it have to climb a 10% grade for an hour at 70 mph?

There are circuit tests that are used to determine the performance of a car, they were used in the PNGV program to see if the designs met the goals.

Maybe at some point some compromises have to be made to allow a cost effective product to succeed. The idea that you need 20 hp to cruise on the highway, but every now and then you could use 200 hp to accelerate or climb, so we carry around 200 hp engines.


"Will someone buy a car with a top speed of 85 mph? Probably some would, but will enough buy it to make some money?"

small city cars like the Kia Picanto, Nissan Micra and VW Fox only have top speeds around ~90mph and they seem to sell pretty well. however obviously no-one who buys one of these cars is ever expecting to get anywhere near the top speed, in reality they will rarely be asked to do more than 50/60mph.


@ Realarm

I was not being clear enough about what I meant. I was comparing the fuel cell plus hydrogen storage system to an ICE genset plus fuel storage system sized for a typical PHEV car. Is it not so that you can only get max 1000 Wh/kg in for such an ICE genset (like 300 kg genset + 100 kg fuel can deliver 100000W for 4 hours)? This is still 10 times better than a typical LiFePO4 battery but also half than the 2000Wh /kg for the primary hydrogen fuel cell. 1MWh is 1000000 Wh that you don’t mean?

@ Kevin

Thank you for informing me about the tradeoff between PEM full cell size and efficiency. I did not know.



It is more efficient and simpler feeding the electricity directly to an electric motor.


This isnt abnormal for h2 systema. a single 2kg tank would provide this car with about 35 kwh and weigh 41 kg.
The fact they used a low eff small fc was an obvious step someone would make in getting a cheaper fc that likely is massproduction ready.. tho mass in this cade means 1000 units.

Its a perfect car for anyone well off enough who lives near the h2 fueling stations or has thier own fueling station inside a large garage like many car nuts do...wholesale gas is NICE;/

Also remember one massive boon h2 has is if you double the tank diameter you 4x the fuel yet only 2x weight.. batteries its 1 to 1.. a 50 kg tank would only weigh under 200 kg yet give a volt a range of 3750 miles... it would however take your trunk ;/ Still even a tank just slihjtly bigger then used now would give a volt a 600 mile range...


It is possible to make H2 using NG in your garage, like the FCX. The extra heat can be used in the home. If we get biomass to NG we can have good supplies as well. FC efficiency is a real plus, but cost for the FC is a real minus.


efficiency of h2 productiom from methane (65 %) Honda FCX efficiency,60 % that means with FCV we are around 40 % for the overall efficiency (well to wheel )! what about the direct electric drives (BEV);
Let assume an optimistic 50 % producing electric power, imagine no losses in distribution and a very goog BEV with 80% of efficiency...wth is the difference between the two pathways ?
The competition is not betwen BEV and FCV, but EV Vs ICE!!!


Good for them. Companies do things for various reasons. Morgan may intend to sell these at a profit. The price is certain to be high but many people have a lot of money and a taste for unique items.

They may also be interested in building up their technical prowess. I'm not sure how big they are now but consulting and licensing may be a goal.

Wintermane's comment about how a fuel tank outer size does not increase as fast as capacity is the sort of fundamental that helps keep things in perspective.

If the concern is weight then it is true. If the concern is volume occupied then not. But lighter is better and weight is the more important. Liquid fuels hold the weight advantage and alternatives must overcome that elsewhere.

John Taylor

I like the styling and frame design (mostly) and especially the configuration of having motors mounted in the frame with a more standard suspension. This should be cost effective as the motors will not be subjected to undue road vibration stress, and various motor options (high speed, or high range) will be easy to offer in the same frame. I also like the numbers envisioned, 135 Km/h & 0>100 km/h in under 7 seconds will work for most drivers.

The proposal to have a Hydrogen Fuel Cell deliver the constant load requirement for cruising could be switched to a conventional power generator with similar sizing, or alternately, a very large battery pack to make it into a PEV as both these options could fit into the size and weight allocated.

Kudos where due, this is a very good offering from Morgan.


That is one classy looking car!

John H

I don't really think the "fussing about details" is really necessary here. let's all look at the Morgan for what it is: a small (really small) car mfg. investing a lot of time, money and effort into designing a vehicle that fits with our future energy needs. Sure it isn't perfect yet. Sure Fuel cell efficiency could use to be increased significantly. Sure, we aren't "there" yet, but they have designed a car that is supposed to be meeting our needs... right? There are companies out there who have designed home hydrogen production and recharging systems utilizing solar, wind and grid power. As a matter of fact significant leaps are being made every day in the hydrogen production area, likewise with the fuel cell tech. Sure, maybe the Morgan isn't for everyone and isn't perfect, but let's see it for what it is - a damn good step in the right direction!


I know this isn't necessarily relevant to how good the car is....but that rendering of the LIFECar is horrible! It is as if they threw it together in only five minutes (that is how long it would take me to make in any CAD program). Considering how badly put together their computer generated model is...I don't have too much faith in the actual car. But the styling is impressive.


@Henrik: I used the wrong energy metric; gasoline/diesel is not 10 MWh/kg but 10 MJ/kg (3600 times less); The volume/weight of a ICE (assuming the hybrid part is about equal size/weight for both FC & ICE) is probably around 1x0,5x0,5 m = 250l (excluding all non-drivetrain and common parts) plus the tank.

At 8 MJ/l (gasoline) and a 50 l tank, total drivetrain engery density would be about 50*8/300 = 1,33 MJ/l.

For a FC, I would guess the volume requirements of the drivetrain to be about 0,2x1,3x1,8 (FC) + 0,3x0,3x0,5 (Motor) ~= 520l plus tank, ie. 50l for 2kg H2. (These dimension are approximations from a Mercedes A-Class H2FC prototype)

At 120 MJ/kg thats about 2*120/570 = 0,42 MJ/l.

Seems to me, for energy density, the ICE (+Hybrid) drivetrain wins over a H2 FC (+Hybrid) drivetrain...

@Paul: you left out the H2 storage efficiency in your numbers, which is somewhere between 20 and 60%, depending on CH2 or LH2 use; for the BEV, I`d think 80% to be the low limit; it would include the transmission & storage losses already; E-Motors in drivetrains typically have 92-97% efficiency, and the inverters need to be at least as efficient in order to not succumb quickly to thermal effects (junction temp exceeding operations limits).

And using NG (methane) as feedstock, I`d use it in a ICE or SOFC directly, instead of costly converting it to volatile H2; CNG has much less storage leakage, and with univalent (C)NG diesel ICEs, you have a peak efficiency around 45% (higher pressures as the cetan rating is much higher for CNG), and SOFC currently operate also at higher efficiencies than H2 FCs (they rely on oxygen mobility rather than H mobility; the former can be controlled much more easily). Vaillant is currently offering a SOFC house heating / cogenerating unit here in europe (i believe around 5-10 kW(e) + 20-50 kW(th), with a focus on heating).

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