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Hydrogen car deal signed in Japan

November 7, 2007, 15:22 CET
Bilde The Mazda RX8 hydrogen-fuelled car to be used in the HyNor project made its Norway preview this week at the 2007 Auto Exhibition in Lillestrøm, near Oslo. From left are Gøril Andreassen, project manager, Zero (Zero Emission Resource Organisation); Karianne Westby, managing director, Mazda Motor Norway; Knut Harg, StatoilHydro new energy information manager; and Marina Bakkum, information manager, Mazda Motor Norway. (Photo: David Burke)

StatoilHydro is a key partner in the HyNor project.

“This is the first agreement of its kind in Europe – directly between a car manufacturer and hydrogen development project,” said Ulf Hafseld, HyNor chair and head of business development in StatoilHydro’s hydrogen business unit in Technology & New Energy.

Mr Hafseld and StatoilHydro’s head of hydrogen, Per Øyvind Hjerpaasen, were both present at the signing in Japan. The MoU provides for Mazda’s delivery of 30 to 40 RX8 sports car models equipped with combustion engines fuelled by hydrogen instead of petrol for an initial three-year period with options to continue.

“This agreement reflects StatoilHydro’s genuine commitment to helping develop a viable hydrogen-based transportation infrastructure for the future and build future business,” commented Mr Hjerpaasen.

Moving ahead

“We’re all waiting for hydrogen fuel cell cars to come but they are still in the development phase and presently too costly to operate,” commented Mr Hafseld. “If we want to expedite the development of hydrogen transport technology, we have to use what’s available now. This agreement with Mazda allows us to move more quickly towards developing a hydrogen corridor between Stavanger and Oslo.”

HyNor’s hydrogen road is already in gear. Hydrogen fuelling stations presently operate in Stavanger and Porsgrun, Grenland in eastern Norway. Plans call for installing another service station in Stavanger, as well as one in Oslo and possibly Drammen in the near future.

The HyNor project currently employs 13 Toyota Prius hybrid models, which use both combustion engines fuelled by hydrogen and a zero emissions electric motor. The Toyota agreement is together with a California-based renewable energy development company, not directly with the car maker.

At the forefront

“This new agreement with Mazda possibly makes HyNor the largest hydrogen infrastructure development project in Europe. It depends on how the Germans are progressing,” Mr Hafseld said.

In addition to the Mazdas and Toyotas, HyNor has plans to start operating four hydrogen-fuelled buses in Oslo and another two in Stavanger by early 2009.

The HyNor project plans to open the Norwegian hydrogen road in May 2009. The endeavour is supported in part by the Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Ministry of Transport.