Carmakers there are working on internal-combustion engines that run on the eco-friendly gas and Mazda, which is highlighting its latest work at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.
The Premacy people mover; with a hydrogen rotary engine and hybrid electric booster; picks up the pace from a hydrogen-fuelled RX-8 turbo on display at the 2005 Tokyo show.
“We set out to develop hydrogen combustion technologies for the anticipated arrival of a hydrogen society with engines that will continue to deliver Mazda's zoom-zoom driving pleasure,” Mazda's senior managing executive officer, Seita Kanai, says.
“These are real-world technologies that will be ready for practical application once an adequate supporting infrastructure is in place.”
The move puts Mazda into the same group of carmakers as BMW, which has been touting hydrogen for nealy 10 years and has a hydrogen-fuelled 7-Series, which it hopes to demonstrate in Australia next year; in limited production.
The German brand believes hydrogen has the potential to fuel existing engines before the widespread switch to hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars beyond 2020; perhaps even following the mainstream move to electric cars with on-board generator systems.
The Premacy at the show will be in limited production next year, when it will join the hydrogen
RX-8 on limited-lease duty with Japanese corporations and local governments. Mazda says it uses a hybrid hydrogen drive that gives extended range and plenty of power, with zero CO2 emissions when it is run on hydrogen.
It has 40 per cent more power and, with hybrid boost, overcomes the low torque output from the rotary design.
But it is not the only eco-friendly development from Mazda.
The company's stand includes a display of a new bio-plastic material, derived from plants, that can be used in interior parts and seats thanks to excellent resistance to heat, shock and wear. It also has new-generation engines that burn cleaner yet produce better power and economy.
Mazda also has its take on an intelligent transport system intended to reduce congestion and the chance for crashes.
“Mazda is concentrating on cultivating the branches of `environmental protection' and `safety' as we work to extend the tree's powerful roots even deeper into the soil and make it grow even larger,” Kanai says.