February 15, 2006 Yet another major automotive company has taken a hydrogen vehicle to market. Mazda announced today that it has received permission from Japan’s Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) to begin leasing the RX-8 Hydrogen RE to corporate customers. The RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles are equipped with a rotary engine, and feature a dual-fuel system that allows the driver to select either hydrogen or gasoline. Mazda today signed those leases with Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd. and Iwatani International Corporation and delivery is scheduled for late March 2006.
Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd. and Iwatani International Corporation, both companies operating in the energy sector, have leased one vehicle each. By the end of 2006, Mazda plans to lease about ten RX-8 Hydrogen RE cars to local government and energy companies. In 2003, Mazda exhibited a RX-8 hydrogen rotary vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show and received permission from MLIT in October 2004 to conduct public road tests for ongoing development and practical application of this advanced technology. Mazda undertook 29 months of development from the time of announcing the concept model to achieving the breakthrough, real-world rotary hydrogen vehicle.
Employing a dual-fuel system, the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE can run on either high-pressure hydrogen gas or gasoline. This combination offers excellent convenience because it can be driven in remote areas where hydrogen fueling stations are not readily available, easing driver concerns about running out of fuel. In addition, this system boasts great environmental friendliness—zero emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas and near zero nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission when fueled by hydrogen—together with the natural driving feel of an internal combustion engine. It uses engine parts and production facilities that already exist in Mazda’s inventory, so this innovative engine can be built with a high degree of reliability at a relatively low cost. The standard monthly lease price is 420,000 yen with tax included which is almost half the monthly lease price of a fuel cell vehicles already available in Japan.
With the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, Mazda continues to advance the possibilities of the internal combustion engine and improve the performance of hydrogen-fueled rotary engine vehicles. It represents another Mazda contribution to a more environmentally friendly hydrogen energy society of the future.
Mazda’s hydrogen vehicle development milestones
1991- Developed the first hydrogen rotary engine vehicle, HR-X 1992 - Test drive of golf cart equipped with fuel cell 1993 - Developed second hydrogen rotary engine vehicle, HR-X2 1993 - Developed test version of MX-5 equipped with hydrogen rotary engine 1995 - Conducted Japan’s first public road test with Capella Cargo equipped with hydrogen rotary engine 1997 - Developed Demio (Mazda2) FC-EV 2001 - Developed Premacy FC-EV and conducted first public road test in Japan (with methanol reformer fuel cell system) 2003 - Announced Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen Rotary Engine vehicle development model 2004 - Conducted the world’s first public road tests of the RX-8 hydrogen rotary engine that can run on two types of fuel - hydrogen and gasoline