The first commercially viable hydrogen auto to hit the highways may not be a auto at all. It may be a hydrogen motorcycle or motor scooter that actually becomes the first mass-produced hydrogen vehicle to take to the highways and byways of this nation.
A British company called Intelligent Energy has been showing off its hydrogen motorcycle or ENV (Emission Neutral Vehicle) as they call it and plans to start mass-producing this vehicle in the latter part of 2006. The ENV is a fuel cell vehicle using compressed hydrogen with a top speed of 50 mph and a range of 100 miles.
This hydrogen motorcycle is made from cast aircraft grade aluminum and weighs a mere 155 lbs. The ENV uses CORE cell technology, which means the fuel cell and battery are housed in one unit and removable. The ENV is expected to sell for $6,000 to $8,500 when it rolls out.
I got a chance to check this out myself and took these photos of the ENV and its fuel cell stack.
Another company that is hot on Intelligent Energy’s trail to be the first to market is Aprilia with their Atlantic Zero Emission motor scooter. This fuel cell vehicle has a 6 kw (8 hp) electric engine, a top speed of around 50 mph and range of about 90 miles before refueling.
One of the main considerations for rolling out either of these vehicles, though, is the lack of current fueling stations for their customers. Intelligent Energy, at least, has decided to relocate its main office to California where there are a handful of hydrogen refueling stations already in place throughout the state.
Many eyes will be watching to see how the public responds to the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to hit the market. Is it too soon? We’ll see this year.