Suzuki Planning to Launch Production of Fuel Cell Powered Vehicles
by Saad I. on March 21, 2013
The Japanese small vehicle specialist, Suzuki Motors, is planning to launch fuel cell powered vehicles and scooter soon. This announcement came just after the opening of their first fuel cell production facility in Yokohama, Japan. The production facility is a result of joint partner-shipping with the UK based Intelligent Energy and the Suzuki Motors.
The partner-shipping is on 50/50 basis and has been christened as SMILE FC System Corporation. Under the agreement the Intelligent Energy will assist and provide technical assistance to the Suzuki Motors for development of air cooled fuel cell system for propulsion system in cars and other purposes. The facility would be later scaled up to provide fuel cell stacks for use in Suzuki’s future vehicles.
The SMILE FC plant, Yokohama, Japan, is a joint collaboration between Suzuki and Intelligent Energy to develop fuel cells for future production vehicles and two-wheelers
The fuel cell is not a new innovation. It has been already been tested and used in various applications. The fuel cell uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity which is then used to drive the on board electric motors. It is totally clean and produces no pollution to the environment. Moreover the filling of oxygen and hydrogen tanks still uses less energy for refill than the amount of CO2 produced by the combustion powered cars.
The refilling time is also less cit is required The fuel cell is also used to power up the satellites and provide electric generation at remote places. The first fuel cell vehicle was the 1966 Chevrolet Electrovan with a 120 miles range; however, vehicle was not practical at all since all of the usable space was consumed by the fuel cell stacks and fuel tanks. The project was also considered cost prohibitive thus generating lack of interest from the other manufacturers of the time.
Since the 2000s, a renewed interest has been seen with several automakers releasing prototype vehicles; but to miniaturization of the technology, these vehicles are less grumpy and less bulky than the 1966 Chevy Electrovan.
The Suzuki SX4 FCV fuel cell powered vehicle went under extensive test on the Japanese roads during the year 2008
Suzuki is a small vehicle specialist and has a global presence in over 190 countries. Some of the popular models are swift, alto, vitara and jimmy. Suzuki plans to produce fuel cell vehicles in the near future. In 2009, the SX4 FCV fuel cell vehicle was displayed at the Hokkaido Tōyako summit. The SX4 FCV is based on the 5 door SX4 hatchback and features an 80kW hydrogen fuel cell and 68kW electric motor.
It had a range of 250 km. The car has even passed all the Japanese Government regulations and is certified for production. The concept vehicle is expected to go into production somewhere in the near future.
Suzuki also showcased the SX4 FCV at the 2009 Tokyo motor show an 2009 Paris motor show.
The cutaway diagram of the fuel cell powered Suzuki Burgman scooter. Note the under belly hydrogen fuel tank
Besides vehicles, Suzuki is also considering introducing the fuel cell powered bikes and scooters. The fuel cell powered Burgman scooter has already received the nod from the European authorities for mass production. This has also been made in collaboration with the UK based Intelligent Energy and has a claimed range of over 100 miles (considering the speed in the 40mph urban driving regime).
The hydrogen fuel tank has been stored underbelly and the scooter itself weighs 170 kilos. The Burgman scooter is almost production ready and is expected to be launched soon in the future, making it the first fuel cell powered mass production two wheeler around the globe. This is not the first that Suzuki has come up with a fuel powered two wheeler. Earlier it showcased a concept “Cross Cage” bike at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.
The futuristic looking bike had a working fuel cell technology that will be used in the future hydrogen fuel cell powered two wheelers.
The Suzuki Cross Cage fuel cell powered bike was first unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. Note the cutaway diagram showing the placing of the fuel cell components
The Intelligent Energy is UK based RD firm that aims to pursue clean technology and assist the global giants in technical assistance in low carbon fuel cell systems. They specialize in the PEM fuel cells and are promoting actively PEM-electric hybrid configuration power-train for driving the cars of the future. The fuel cell systems can end dependence on the fossil fuel and help in significant reduction of carbon dioxide in the environment by up to 75%.
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