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The Near Future at the Motor Show
Jamais Cascio, 12 Oct 05

tmsconceptcars.jpgAlthough hydrogen fuel cell-based vehicles remain some years away from commercial availability (and, even if the market eventually moves towards entirely battery-based vehicles, we're still likely to see some fuel cell cars on showroom floors), it's interesting to watch the evolution of the experimental fuel cell vehicles that roll out at auto shows. In recent years, there has been a mix of very practical but arguably boring designs and stuff that is clearly meant to be more provocative than plausible. At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, however, we'll be seeing some designs that bridge the two categories: useful enough to potentially foreshadow what will eventually come out, while still unusual enough to both turn heads and challenge how we think about personal transportation. As usual, Green Car Congress has the goods, and has linked to the Tokyo Motor Show plans for DaimlerChrysler, Toyota and (in the purely motorcycle realm) Yamaha.

The DaimlerChrysler HYGENIUS is a good demonstration of how close carmakers are to being able to produce real-world useful fuel cell vehicles. The HYGENIUS couples a 115 hp engine -- about the same as a Honda Civic -- with a range of close to 250 miles on a bit more than the equivalent of 3 gallons of fuel. That's getting close to what would be usable in a real-world fuel cell vehicle. DaimlerChrysler is actually even touting the HYGENIUS' potential as a mobile power source:

As well as generating clean energy to drive the research vehicle, the fuel cell can also serve as a mobile power source: its 66 kW of electrical power would be quite sufficient to keep several detached houses supplied with power. [...] The fuel cell's energy also allows electrical devices to be operated anywhere at the standard voltage level - following onboard conversion - granting the occupants total independence from the mains network on family outings or business trips. All they have to do is connect the device to a power socket in the tailgate.

The HYGENIUS functions like a hybrid-electric vehicle, using a battery for low-speed driving, charging it with regenerative braking and the electric motor while cruising.

Toyota's FINE-X vehicle has something of a resemblance to the HYGENIUS. This isn't entirely surprising; early fuel cell vehicles will need to maximize room within a lightweight, compact-car frame, so the mini-minivan design will probably be commonplace. Toyota has so far provided fewer details on the FINE-X, other than to say that it uses electric in-wheel motors and "carbon-neutral" plant-based materials for many interior and exterior components. Tokyo is also showing a next-generation hybrid minivan, the "Esteem," at the Tokyo show, as well as the latest iteration of the Personal Mobility Vehicle concept, the "i-swing" (seriously, does Toyota even consult a native English speaker before naming their concept vehicles?!?).

tms_001.jpgOf course, "Personal Mobility Vehicles" already exist today, in the form of motorcycles. We've explored before the potential for hydrogen and electric motorcycles (as well as the current popularity of electric scooters and mopeds), but the Yamaha concept bikes really expand the boundaries of what the motorcycle of the future could look like. The "Gen-Ryu" hybrid motorcycle looks like something out of Akira (and Yamaha claims it performs like a 1000 cc sport bike, so it goes as fast as something out of Akira, too), while the "DEINONYCHUS" electric bike actually changes its height and length to conform to rider and road conditions. While the Gen-Ryu and DEINONYCHUS still look like prototypes, the HV-01 hybrid gasoline-electric and the "FC-me" methane fuel cell scooters look like bikes that could be on the road today. As it happens, the FC-me (and, again, run the English names past an English-speaker, please -- the Yamaha "F*ck-me"?!?) will have limited lease availability in Japan by June of next year. I wonder how much longer we'll have to wait before a commercially-available hybrid-electric scooter or motorcycle hits the market -- I'd guess we'll see one by 2007, if not sooner.

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Comments

Toyota Car Lovers Online clearly states the evolution of modern day cars. Now another progress is seen as car makers develop a new SUV hybrid. New hybrids are "products of incessant evolution". We will be expecting a lot of new conventions as auto makers release their new cars on market.


Posted by: Mark Clarkson on 12 Oct 05

it was very nice i would like to get some more news if you could till the next evening


Posted by: santosh on 23 Oct 05



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