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Mazda RX-8 RE

The Mazda RX-8 Renesis hydrogen car may very well be the first hydrogen car to hit the showrooms in 2008. According to Mazda, the RX-8 rotary dual-fuel gasoline-hydrogen car (or something similar) may just be what the showrooms ordered as the first of its kind, ushering in a new era of hydrogen technology.


Mazda RX-8 Renesis Hydrogen Car

The Mazda RX-8 features its Renesis (RE) rotary engine that has been equipped and optimized to run on either hydrogen or gasoline with the flip of a switch. According to Mazda, rotary engines are particular suited to run hydrogen since they are not prone to backfiring and misfiring as are standard internal combustion engines. This is because the Renesis rotary engine has separate chambers for intake and combustion, two injectors per intake chamber and the fuel does not ignite until top dead center.

Because it's a dual-fuel vehicles the Mazda RX-8 has different specifications depending upon whether its running in gasoline or hydrogen mode. In gasoline mode, the RX-8 generates 210 bhp and has a range of 330 miles. In hydrogen mode, the Mazda RX-8 generates 109 bhp with a range of 60 miles. The RX-8 also carries a compressed hydrogen tank at 5,000 psi. In the past, using hydrogen-only rotary engines, Mazda was able to get better performance from their engines and is hopeful of achieving better performance in the future on the hydrogen side of the dual-fuel engine as well.

The Mazda RX-8 also boasts improved aerodynamics, lower overall weight, optimized tires and reduced brake drag. As an environmentally-friendly vehicle, the RX-8 was coated with three-layer, wet-on water-based paint reducing the emissions of C02 and organic solvents in the manufacturing process.

Renesis Rotary Dual-Fuel Engine

The Mazda RX-8 hydrogen car was first unveiled at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show and has received much attention ever since because of its ability as a dual-fuel vehicle to sidestep the hydrogen infrastructure issue.

In March 2006, Mazda delivered the RX-8 RE hydrogen car to its first two corporate customers in Japan. Iwatani International Corporation in Osaka and Idemitsu Kosan Corporation, Ltd. in Tokyo, received the first two RX-8 hydrogen cars in lease deals coming in at under $10,000 per month.

According to RX-8 Hydrogen RE development program manager Akihiro Kashiwagi, "We're pleased to deliver these hydrogen rotary vehicles for fleet use in these two companies, which are participating in the Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project (JHFC) and are actively engaged in advancing further uses of hydrogen energy. And we are looking forward to hearing feedback from our customers about the cars."

One area in which Mazda has hit a roadblock with its RX-8 RE hydrogen car is with government leases. Mazda has stated that since government officials see the RX-8 as a sports car, they've had a hard time justifying a lease for government fleet use. But, Mazda may just bypass the government rollouts and go straight to consumers with the RX-8 RE. Then again, Mazda may just switch gears and in 2008 roll out their Premacy RE Hydrogen Hybrid minivan instead. Stay tuned to see which hydrogen vehicle zoom-zooms to the head of the pack.

Written by Hydro Kevin Kantola