Zero-emissions race car shows the future
TOYOTA has unveiled a zero-emissions race car concept at the Geneva Motor Show, hinting at what might be feasible in the future and appealing to new generations of car buyers.
The Triathlon is designed for three different types of environments – racetrack, narrow roads and off-road.
It uses a radical four-wheel drive system, each wheel fitted with its own electric motor powered by hydrogen fuel cells to ensure zero emissions.
It incorporates an electronically-controlled suspension system which monitors road conditions, raises the ride height and adjusts the settings accordingly. Tyres adapt to the conditions through built-in sensors.
The Triathlon also uses an advanced IT system, developed by Denso and Canon, where driver and passenger wear a special helmet that allows them to visualise information, like a head-up display, but helping the driver foresee approaching road conditions and interacting with the car to optimise its set-up.
The only chance people will get to drive the Triathlon is in the forthcoming Sony PlayStation2 game, Gran Turismo 4.
And continuing its investigation into the possible applications of fuel cell technology, Toyota also showed a fuel cell hybrid MPV, called the FINE-N (Fuel cell INnovative Emotion-Next generation).
Because the fuel cell stack is under the completely flat floor, the cabin has extra space, which Toyota calls a 'cabin-on-wheels' configuration. As a result it is the length of a Corolla but has the interior space of a much larger MPV.
Each wheel has its own electric motor rated at 33bhp, which allows independent four-wheel drive.
All vehicle functions including steering and brakes are controlled by drive-by-wire technology to allow greater freedom of interior design and weight saving.
Shared technologies help speed up new developments
FORD and Toyota have announced an agreement to share a number of hybrid and green technologies in a bid to speed up development of environmentally-friendly vehicles.
Under the agreement, Toyota's hybrid system control technology will be able to be used in Ford hybrid vehicles, which are under development. Later this year, Ford will unveil the world's first full hybrid, an Escape sport utility vehicle, in the USA. It paves the way for hybrid technology to spread further into the Ford range, including European cars.
The deal continues Toyota's strategy of sharing its green technology with other manufacturers. In 2002, it signed a deal with Nissan to share hybrid expertise. As part of the agreement, Ford will allow Toyota to use its NOx control and Direct Spark Ignition technology in lean-burn engines, while the Japanese company will give the Americans its NOx storage system.
Fuel cells power ahead
HYUNDAI will be trialling its new Tucson fuel cell vehicle with small fleets in the United States at the end of this year, it revealed at the Geneva Motor Show.
The Tucson FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) has a touring range of 186 miles thanks to a 152-litre hydrogen storage tank. It has a lightweight aluminium body and 107bhp, allowing it to reach a top speed of 93mph.
Importantly, the Tucson FCEV is able to start and run in sub-zero conditions, a major hurdle in the development of fuel cells, and one that many manufacturers are yet to overcome.
Kim San-Kwon, president of research and development at Hyundai, said: 'Entering this new phase of our programme is very exciting because we will be able to build fuel cell electric vehicles in higher volumes for fleet testing. It also brings us one step closer to the commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles.'
Hyundai has no plans to run the car with UK fleets as yet, but it continues the strategy of many manufacturers developing fuel cell technology to use fleets as its test bed for practical, day-to-day running.
Ford is trialling its fuel cell Focus with fleets in Vancouver, Canada this year, and General Motors has been talking to a number of UK fleets about the possibility of running hydrogen-powered cars over the next few years (Fleet News, December 12, 2002).