Mazda has introduced one of its Hydrogen powered RX-8's to Norway's public roads, making this the first time a hydrogen powered RX-8 has seen duty outside Japan. Mazda is working in conjunction with Norway's national Hydrogen Project, HyNor, to develop a clean national transport system and further develop the car. The project will officially get underway in 2009 when Mazda delivers thirty more hydrogen powered RX-8s under commercial lease.
The first vehicle is being delivered ahead of schedule to assess its driving performance and to begin testing fuel infrastructure. Mazda's RX-8 will also make various appearances at environmental exhibitions and other events to generate interest for the car and HyNor alike.
Mazda?s program manager in charge of hydrogen development, Akihiro Kashiwagi, outlined Mazda's view on the programs value:
?Up to now, real world use of Mazda?s hydrogen rotary vehicles has been limited to Japan. Participation in the HyNor project marks our advancement to the next stage. Mazda plans to use the wealth of data and experience that will result from this project for the further development of hydrogen vehicles,? Mr Kashiwagi said.
Considered a unique Norwegian initiative, HyNor will demonstrate the implementation of hydrogen energy infrastructure - filling stations - along a 580 kilometre transport corridor from Oslo to Stavanger in Norway.
As the project progresses, buses, taxis, and private cars will also be included as HyNor looks to later encompass other transport systems including urban, inter-city, regional and even long-distance transport.
With only eight hydrogen-fueled Mazda RX-8's having been leased to Japanese government bodies and enterprises to date, the HyNor project will also be the largest real-world test-bed the RX-8 has been subjected to.
Certainly, it will be some time before an alternate fuel source establishes itself as a clear winner. For now, hydrogen is gathering momentum as one possible answer in the search for alternatives to fossil fuels. The world will be watching the HyNor project with interest.