Its 2007, and all the major car manufacturers have realized that in order to survive, the need for a more efficient and environmentally friendlier approach to combustion engines is required. The Japanese have gone to Hybrid technology with Toyota and Honda leading the way with the Prius and Civic Hybrid.
The Europeans have stuck with Diesel and the Germans, well, they’ve probably already found a way to power a car using nothing but air, but they won’t share their secrets.
However here in Australia, not much is being done. Holden still refuses to confirm whether or not a Diesel variant of the Commodore will ever come out whilst they work harder trying to sell vehicles like the Hummer H3.
Meanwhile the petrol companies are milking the “Ethanol Blend” fuels as being the environmentally friendly fuel, when in reality they are just as harmful if not worse for the environment than standard fuel (the comic below explains it better than we could).
Nonetheless, one manufacturer in Australia has a long term vision, Ford.
Ford Australia last week confirmed its support for a long-term research project initiated by the University of Melbourne that will seek to find a mass-production friendly hydrogen fueled vehicle engine.
To kick start proceedings, researchers at University of Melbourne will start with a hydrogen assisted jet ignition technology incorporated into Ford’s XR-6 (and territory) turbocharged 6-cylinder engines.
“This project will use cutting-edge research into low/zero emissions technology, it will also tackle the important energy issues of hydrogen generation from renewable energy and its high density storage requirements.” said University of Melbourne Senior Lecturer, Dr Michael Brear.
To be fair, the project is getting a $1.2 million grant from the Victorian State Government (a move which we strongly applaud). Ford’s participation is mainly via the engine donations and resources critical to the develpment of a hydrogen power unit. Its hard to imagine why Holden did not jump on this opportunity? After all this is sure to give Ford a massive head start into creating the environmentally friendly cars of the next decade.
Much like Toyota which is happy to sell as many polluting Land Cruisers as it can, whilst keeping the green and friendly image with the Prius for its propoganda purposes, Ford is no stranger to trying to clean up its image of Fuel Guzzling tanks (mainly from the F series trucks). In late 2006, Ford signed up alongside the University of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government to form the Advanced Centre for Automotive Research Technology (ACART).
The idea of the whole thing being to focus on designing car engines which are not simply focused on todays tried and tested engines. It will be interesting to see when Holden and Ford will both announce the Diesel versions of the Commodore and Falcon, we have a feeling that it can’t be too far off.