Mazda Hydrogen Hybrid?

A car that can run on hydrogen and gasoline. Alternative fuels are good for the environment and reduce our reliance on a scarce resource, but they’re not always practical. For a while now we’ve had the technology for hydrogen cars, electric cars, biodiesel cars and more. Why aren’t they in widespread use yet? Because regular people can’t use these vehicles to meet their needs as efficiently as cars that run on Conventional fuels.

What do regular people need? A car that is reliable, reasonably priced, safe, cost effective to run, and can get them where they need to go. One of the roadblocks has been limited range for the amount of fuel a car can store. A tank of gasoline can get you about 300 miles before you have to fill up. We’re pretty used to that. We don’t have to stop for gas every hour, and there are plenty of gas stations within our range. Even if you’re travelling between cities, you can certainly find gas stations less than 300 miles apart. What if your car ran on something else? First you have the issue of how far it can go on a fill-up or a charge. We need to develop ways to store enough energy in the available space with the available technologies. This presents a problem with some of the technologies, including electric and hydrogen. The second problem is availability of fuel wherever you might want to go. Until more customers buy a fuel, it won’t be cost effective for service stations to offer it.

So what’s the solution? How are we going to move from conventional to alternative fuels, as we must do? Hybrids. We need cars that can run on an alternative fuel but also have a gasoline backup. They will greatly reduce our use of gasoline immediately, while providing the flexibility to use something we know we can rely on.

Mazda’s new Premacy Hybrid runs on Hydrogen and gasoline. This increases its range to about 125 miles, double that of the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE of 3 years ago. That’s still less than conventional fuel cars. Is it enough? For a lot of people it probably is. Especially when you consider the lower fuel costs and the fact that it produces far lower emissions.

Mazda Premacy Hydrogen Rotary Engine Hybrid

But you won’t see any new Mazda Premacy Hybrids on the road in the U.S. This technology is still in the experimental stage. Mazda has just leased a few of these cars to Iwatani, an energy development company in Japan. They’ll use the cars for business purposes and provide feedback to Mazda.
Will hydrogen hybrids become a viable option in the U.S.? It’s difficult to say. A lot depends on the advances that Mazda is able to make on hydrogen technology and on how well other technologies, especially electric hybrid cars, perform.