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Fuel Cell Suzuki Sx4 Takes To Japanese Roads

Fuel Cell Suzuki Sx4 Takes To Japanese Roads

One of the rising stars in the New Zealand new car market is being tested in an advanced and highly efficient form.

The Suzuki SX4-FCV (fuel cell vehicle) is about to undergo testing on Japanese roads after being shown at the recent G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit conference.

Suzuki has previously built three fuel cell vehicles since it began work on this technology seven years ago, and says the SX4 is the best performing FCV car the company has developed.

The experimental SX4-FCV has received approval from Japan’s Ministry of Land and Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for testing on public roads.

Suzuki is developing fuel cell vehicles in partnership with General Motors, and tested an MR Wagon-FCV and Wagon R-FCV in 2003 and a second MR Wagon-FCV in 2004.

The SX4-FCV five-door hatchback uses a GM-made high performance fuel cell, a Suzuki-developed 70 MPa (10,000 psi) compressed hydrogen tank and a light, compact capacitor. This recovers energy during braking application and uses it to reduce load consumption during acceleration.

Suzuki Motor Corporation is seen as a dark horse in fuel cell technology by developing vehicles on several different fronts to compete with large motor manufacturers.

The experimental SX4-FCV has a driving range of 250 kilometres and a top speed of 150 km/h.

With an overall length of 4,190mm and wheelbase of 2,500mm, the SX4 is regarded as an ideal size car for today’s needs and a likely candidate for conversion to fuel cell use.

The hydrogen tank is located between the rear wheels and the fuel cell and motor are located in the usual engine bay at the front.

A high capacity capacitor for regenerated energy is located in the rear, taking up about half the load space in the hatchback boot.

Fuel cell vehicles may revolutionise on-road transportation, and Suzuki is hoping current testing may make the technology commercially viable.

Battery-electric cars and fuel cell equivalents are each propelled by electric motors, however fuel cell vehicles create their own electricity.

The on-board fuel cells produce electricity through a chemical process using hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air.

Zero-emission FCVs fuelled with pure hydrogen emit only water and no pollutants. They can be twice as efficient as similarly sized conventional vehicles and can also incorporate other advanced technologies for better efficiencies.

Pure hydrogen gas is stored on board in high-pressure tanks or fuelled with hydrogen-rich fuels such as methanol, natural gas or even petrol.

However, these fuels must be converted into hydrogen gas by an on-board device called a reformer.

The production SX4, available in New Zealand in both five-door hatchback and four-door sedan forms, has been gaining in popularity since its local introduction early last year.

In the first half of 2008, the SX4 was the 4th best-selling 2 litre or under new car in New Zealand, and 9th overall best-selling model.

As the second best selling Suzuki model, the SX4 has also been a key factor in Suzuki being the fourth best-selling new passenger car brand in New Zealand for the first six months of this year with a record market penetration of 8 per cent.


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