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Festive Times – Hydrogen and Fuel Cell History

A one-time diversion from the tedious, tiresome (NOT) history — includes fuel cells, though!!

A Christmas story in three parts for the young and the young at heart – to read during the holidays

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and Santa was sad.
He had wished for a small sportscar – an Audi TT at that!
There were dozens of cars throughout his store:
Convertibles, hardtops, and roadsters galore.
All cars were ready and each had a tag
Marked “for Cody” or “Francis” or “Tony” or “Pat”.
St. Nick looked them over, but none was for him.
His chances of getting that sportscar grew slim.

While searching he wondered: Was it too much to ask?
A good little sports car, not exceedingly fast.
Year after year he gave presents away,
Pleasing people, wherever, on this special day.
But never a bag or a box was for him.
The tags always read: “for Jane” or “for Jim”.
No one asked Santa what he wished for this year;
They always want things for themselves, that was clear.

Well, – Santa decided it was time for a change,
Wanting to “speed up” his sleigh wasn’t so strange.
He had been good, not doubt about that. ——
He walked past an Audi R8, tagged “for Pat”;
The car, painted silver, was streamlined and sleek.
St. Nick stepped closer and took a small peek.
The engine under the rear window – impressive; behold,
And Santa soon started feeling quite bold.

He opened the door, and he clambered inside.
”I’ll go for a spin, just a short little ride”
He thought to himself as he turned on the key; —
The engine was idling, Santa noticed with glee.
And he carefully backed the car out thru the door.
When reaching the main road, Santa’s foot hit the floor.
The R8, it roared, nearly took to the sky,
And Santa eased off and gave a big sigh.

He was driving a sportscar, but it was not his,
He must take it back in the condition it is.

But Santa was blissful and he drove for an hour,
The car handled great, and it had lots of power.
Somebody lucky will soon get this machine;
I now must return it, before I’ve been seen.
Perhaps next year, St. Nick thought with glee
There might be a car for me under the tree.

If not a sportscar, ok, but not an old lorry!
If I can’t get a car, many kids will be sorry.
He would have to use, he thought with disdain,
His team of slow moving reindeer again.
Eh! It came to him: What could be funner
Than to pull the sleigh with a Hummer.
Relieved, he called out, as he drove back inside
“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a goodnight!”


Santa’s Workshops              from AMS

 It was a remarkable coincidence that at that very same time, several years ago, a number of people from Audi, and a film crew, were still working in the ‘Far North’. They had waited for the right weather conditions north of the Arctic Circle to complete a sequel photo-shoot, fourteen years after the original one. That and the new one are part of advertisements for Audi, where a car with Quattro all-wheel-drive drives upwards on the ramp of a ski-jump tower. (When an Audi can do that, it could certainly pull a sleigh up onto a rooftop.) The newest Audi A6 Quattro drove up that ramp eleven times, not with a stunt driver, but with the confident engineer Uwe Bleck.

Observers speculated that Bleck had been asked to drive up the tower, instead of a factory test driver, because of his familiarity with these structures; his winter sports activity as an amateur is ski-jumping.


Not Uwe Bleck, but a mysterious Mogul freestyle skier practicing – whom the photo crew saw on their trip

While the film crew and the helicopter were busy keeping up with the Audi on the ramp, one of the security guards on duty unexpectedly reported that he saw a car driving up the side of a nearby mountain — “a car with the four rings above the grill — not like on these cars”, he said.

Eva-Maria V., the attending Audi-Sport PR executive, later took a drive in that direction in her A4 Avant Quattro. [As this story is re-published in 2016, the Audi A4, ‘cousin’ of the VW Passat, and other models are undergoing testing with hydrogen fuel cells on several continents, similarly as reported here earlier] To her amazement, she discovered a driveway with the sign “Santa Claus” and a mailbox with the Canada postal code H0H 0H0. Eva-Maria took a chance and entered the long, winding driveway.

From the ski-jump tower, the photo crew was able to keep track of her car, and they took this picture, possibly with a Nikkor 1200-1700mm f/5.6-8.0 telephoto lens. The photograph clearly shows another set of automobile tire tracks on the cobblestone driveway, ahead of Eva’s Audi rounding the turn.

Audi PR official on the way to visit Santa Claus, rounding the corner where the security guard reported seeing a car earlier

To Eva’s amazement, Santa Claus awaited her at the reindeer stable, just below the castle. He invited Eva-Maria to join him and Mrs. Claus for a mug of hot chocolate. They talked about cars and traffic congestion during the holidays and the advantage of having an all-wheel-drive car. Santa was very interested to learn about the company’s quiet ‘e-tron’ electric cars since he is very concerned about avoiding noise on his nightly round. 

Eva-Maria knew that Santa Claus was looking for a new type of vehicle to speed up the yearly increasing workload of delivering presents. She was able to convince Santa of the Audi Q7 SUV’s ecological and economic advantages over the Hummer he was considering. The Q7 is a cousin of the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne. The VW Group’s SUVs are available with a hybrid drivetrain or diesel engine, important to eco-friendly people everywhere; that could be the platform for a new type of sleigh for the future.


From AMS

However, before signing a purchase order, Santa Claus insisted on having his new “Quattro-Sleigh” painted in an inconspicuous snow-white camouflage color.

Ever since that Christmas Eve a number of years ago, Santa has been busy with government ‘red tape’. Permits, licenses, waivers, manufacturer’s certificates, authorizations from the Federal Aviation Agency, Departments of Fisheries and Oceans, Lands and Forests,  Canadian Wildlife Federation, Department of Northern Affairs, United Nations special dispensation, and last but not least, proof of crash-worthiness from the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Bureaucracy has taken a terrible toll on Canadian manufacturing overall, and children’s toys in particular; so much, that cities like Toronto have to organize ‘Toy Mountain’, to make up for the shortfall of the elves production, because Santa has to waste so much time with rules, regulations, laws, policies, testing and toy recalls.

In the meantime, other automakers and scientists have been busy developing their own versions of a motorized sleigh for Santa Claus, but none has yet succeeded.

As autoblog reported, “Thanks to CAR and a few masters of vehicular design, Santa is bringing some serious automotive enthusiast cheer. The glossy euro mag asked designers from Ford, Bentley, Nissan and Rolls-Royce to design some sleighs for Santa, and while a few of them look to be from the land of misfit toys — and one of them looks like Santa’s Death Star — it’s a fabulously cool exercise. Nissan’s intergalactic sleigh is pulled by a GT-R, Bentley’s got a W12-powered sled, Ford’s got some popout snowboard action happening, and the Rolls sleigh looks, of course, like Santa should have a snifter of Louis XIV in one delicately gloved hand while an elf named Jeeves tends the Smythson leather reins.”  Check them all out here.


From AMS

Let’s ask ourselves: Is it any surprise that Santa Claus still depends on his reindeer?

Only recently, Eva-Maria notified this reporter that Santa Claus will take delivery of his specially modified sleigh based on the Audi SUV as soon as the weather is favorable at the North Pole — most likely too late for this year’s holiday, though. Yours truly had met her and the Audi Sport Joest Team when they raced the R10 TDI Diesel Le Mans prototype at Mosport Park, near Bowmanville, Ontario, in August 2007. (BTW, the racetrack, now called Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, was one of four nominated worldwide for the title of Motorsport Facility of the Year 2013)

(To keep track of Santa’s progress on December 24, Canadians can tune in to the hourly radar reports from Canadian Forces Base Trenton Airport, Transport Command, which are broadcast over many radio stations. — We believe YOUR favorite station already has a similar arrangement with the US Airforce and/or NORAD & NATO?)

BREAKING NEWS: Ottawa, December 21st. A government employee who wishes to remain unanimous has leaked the following: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has intervened at the Ministry of Transportation by intercepting the car transporter and invalidating a ‘permit for combined air/sea/land transport for experimental unlicensed vehicles’ (PASLEUV), — specifically, the transfer of a specially prepared motorized sleigh to a position at  latitude 90° North’, commonly known as the Geographic North Pole —— all while the transporter with Santa’s new specialty vehicle was already heading north.

The official reason given was that the yearly ice-road is still not safe, despite the early onset of winter. — An alternative method to approach the North Pole would have been by icebreaker or transport plane.

From the Canadian Coast Guard, this reporter has learned that not enough ice has formed in the North-West Passage to warrant the use of one of their icebreaker vessels at this time.

The Transport Wing of the Canadian Air Command at CFB Trenton advised that due to global warming the size of ice fields at that latitude is insufficient to carry the weight of any of its transport planes.

The inconvenient truth may be that the Federal Government does not want to upset the current, delicate negotiations between it and our neighbors on the other side of the North-Pole about Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic, by providing official-looking assistance to a person of international impact and importance.

When asked to comment on the government’s decision, a spokesperson for the Nunavut government replied: “This harsh and untimely action by the Federal Government in Ottawa severely restricts the timely delivery of an alternative transportation vehicle intended to increase the efficiency of travel in the North on the whole, and thereby jeopardizes the social fabric of an entire section of the population. Once again, this government has ruled on a major issue affecting all Canadians, without giving Parliament a chance to discuss this matter; It’s another deplorable example of Party Politics over the common good.”

Rumor has it, that the MOT staff could not agree on whether to have the car-transporter equipped with winter tires from Firestone, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Yokohama, Continental, Michelin, or Goodyear, or with Canadian-made Hercules tires. An RCMP roadside inspection station near Alert, on Ellesmere Island, confiscated the license plates from a car carrier equipped with “tires unsuitable for the prevailing conditions” and impounded the tractor–trailer and its cargo — with only 817 km (508 miles) to go to the North Pole.

Because of these actions, Santa Claus will continue to rely on his reindeer with the familiar names, led by Rudolph, pulling the sleigh this year and in the near future.

[Yours truly apologizes for any worrying thoughts or uneasiness young listeners may have experienced concerning Santa Claus’ timely arrival, due to this latest government kerfuffle.]

I am sure he will be, or was on time at your home!!

Happy Holidays from everyone connected with Hydrogen Cars Now.

Next: Inventive Times

P.S. Fresh off the web today: New reindeer information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at       http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/santa/reindeer.asp

 

 

About George Wand

George Wand
Our guest writer George Wand retired from the automotive industry. During his career, he worked in R&D on advanced EV mobility concepts, and working with a museum drives his interest in history. These Hydrogen and Fuel Cell History items are but a small part of more than 750 articles he published in print and digital form. He compiled some of those in a series of eBooks from Amazon-Kindle. Racing to Preserve Precious Petroleum, Part 1 and Part 2 were released in 2016, Part 3 is ready to go by mid-2017. (Download ‘Kindle-for-PC’ or ‘Kindle-for-Mac’ and read on any computer.) Wikipedia, HowStuffWorks.com and EVWorld have referenced Wand’s thoroughly researched, plainly written articles. True to his slogan “On the inventive past the ingenious future will thrive”, Wand is passionate about sustainable mobility in a future without pollution. He has driven a variety of FCVs at Hydrogenics in his Toronto ’backyard’. An article about that will arrive here soon.

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