Toy claimed as world's first hydrogen-powered car

6th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

The toy had its launch just before the Nuremburg Toy Fair.

Nuremberg, Germany -- A hydrogen-powered toy car had its world sales launch Wednesday, with the Hong Kong maker, Corgi, declaring it the first production car of any size to use the zero-carbon technology.

The mechanical innards of the H2Go are supplied by a Singapore-based company, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, and can keep the toy running for up to 5 minutes after a charge, at its base station, with 10 cubic centimetres of hydrogen at room pressure.

German designer Luigi Colani devised the grey, glass-top sports car's outward shape.

So far hydrogen power has mainly been seen on the roads in city buses, which have plenty of room to accommodate the bulky machinery, which burns hydrogen gas and gives off only water vapour as exhaust.

Although hydrogen power could be the key to reducing world carbon dioxide emissions, manufacturers have struggled to make fuel cells small and reliable enough to put into series-production passenger cars.

Speaking in Germany just before the opening of the annual Nuremberg Toy Fair, the world's top toy event, Colani said his design studio in Shanghai, China had built three full-size prototype cars, though these had diesel engines for test purposes.

"We're planning to have fuel cells ready for them early next year," said Colani, an ebullient 79-year-old.

Taras Wankewycz, an executive at Horizon, which makes tiny fuel cells producing up to 1 watt of power, termed the H2Go engine a hybrid.

"It's not 100-per-cent fuel cell, but an assembly of technologies. The fuel cell is good for energy, but for torque and acceleration you need something else, a super-capacitor."

Power-management software operates the two in tandem, ensuring the toy moves nimbly but gets by entirely on renewable energy.

Theoretically it can run constantly, since the base station can produce a full charge of hydrogen every 3 minutes.

However the samples at the fair seemed to be still having minor teething problems Wednesday, with a demonstrator admitting one was temporarily out of action as the media crowded round to see.

Colani said the toy would allow boys to drive on hydrogen 10 years before the family car driven by their fathers caught up with the new technology. While the H2go is out of range of most pocket-money budgets, it should appeal to adult gadget lovers.

Michael Cookson, chief executive of Corgi, said the toy car, its hydrogen-producing base station and a solar panel to power it were set to retail in Europe at a pretax retail price of 108.40 euros (160.45 dollars).

A cheaper version skips the solar panel.

Corgi is a venerable, 50-year-old British-based brand of diecast model cars which has been folded in with two other toy and collectibles companies and relaunched from a Hong Kong base, with its shares traded on the US exchange NASDAQ.

DPA with Expatica

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