Hydrazine hydrate is a liquid fuel
It has been a tough couple of years for the Japanese motor car industry, not least for Daihatsu. On top of natural and man-made disasters, Japan’s oldest car manufacturer, now part-owned by Toyota, has struggled to sell its super-compact “Kei” class vehicles outside of the home market. The company clearly feels however that the future will come to it, predicting demand for compact, zero-emission, hybrid powered vehicles, and has been developing a unique fuel-cell power source for just such a future since 2007. Leading the company’s typically cute concept car range is the FC ShoCase – a vehicle suitable for the new fuel-cell.
Here’s a brief re-cap of the Daihatsu concept vehicles shown late last year in Tokyo. The D-X (“d-cross”) is a sporty two-seater, the appearance of which can be changed by swapping out the resin body-panels. Power comes from an extremely efficient but conventional two-cylinder turbo. The PICO is a tandem two-seater car/bike crossover designed for the local delivery function so prevalent in Japan and indeed the whole of Asia. Motivation is provided by a plug-in electric battery/motor combination.
The most interesting vehicle on show was the FC ShoCase, designed specifically to show-off the possibilities of the fuel-cell power plant. With the cell and motor under the flat floor, clever stowage of the seats allows for an extremely versatile interior; including, one suspects, use as a mobile “love hotel” by young privacy-starved Japanese couples! This is a great looking concept. Please build this Daihatsu.
Of course, fuel cells have been touted as a potential power source for charging batteries and/or driving electric motors for many years. There are serious problems however – the fuel can be dangerous, a large amount of platinum catalyst is required, and power output density (the amount of power produced for a given size of cell) is limited. The Daihatsu cell addresses these concerns in an innovative manner.
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