Well, in the U. S. it’s called the Mazda 5, and in Japan it’s named the Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid. But, whatever you call it, the new Mazda hydrogen minivan is a concept vehicle like no other. Based on the RX-8 Hydrogen RE car, the Mazda 5 Premacy is a bi-fuel rotary mild-hybrid that may just be the first mass-marketed hydrogen car to hit the showrooms as early as 2008.
Mazda 5 / Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid Minivan
The Mazda 5 Premacy Hydrogen Hybrid runs on both gasoline and compressed hydrogen gas. Just pressing a button on the dashboard turns this minivan into a green vehicle and back again when more distance is needed. By introducing a bi-fuel hydrogen / gasoline ICE (internal combustion engine) Mazda is solving one of the key infrastructure issues revolving around just where does one buy hydrogen when so fuel stations are rolled out yet. This is one way to give manufacturers and distributors of hydrogen the incentive to roll out the hydrogen distribution network on a massive scale.
The hybrid unit and rotary engine are transversely mounted at the front of the car in a front-wheel drive layout with the high-voltage battery beneath the second row of seats (along with the gasoline tanki) and the hydrogen tank beside the last row of seats. This arrangement allows for a comfortable and roomy interior along with excellent driving performance and environmental benefits. Earlier versions of the bi-fuel mild hybrid system included regenerative braking, engine power assistance at low rpm’s and stop-start capabilities, which have been carried over to the current Premacy as well.
Currently, the driving range of the Mazda 5 Premacy Concept on hydrogen is limited to around 124 miles before needing refueling. One advantage of using a rotary engine engineered to run on hydrogen is that it doesn’t have the backfiring problems that typical internal combustion engines experience. Because the Mazda 5 Premacy’s Renesis rotary engine has separate intake and combustion chambers, this makes it more ideal for burning hydrogen at lower temperatures.
While the Mazda 5 Premacy Hydrogen minivan (or some variation thereof) may be the first to hit the showrooms in 2008, Mazda has already rolled out its RX-8 Hydrogen Renesis car to a couple of different Hiroshima authorities.
The City of Hiroshima and Hiroshima Prefecture both in Western Japan have each received a dual-fueled RX-8 Hydrogen RE lease vehicle. Mazda has chosen the Renesis bi-fuel rotary engine as its vehicle of choice to drive it into the hydrogen future and with only one other competitor (BMW) racing for the 2008 showroom date, this is a race in which we all will win. Greener cars mean bluer skies.