Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chinese company starts exporting hydrogen fuel-cell powered mopeds!

Yeah, it looks totally insignificant, but it's powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell. The future of motorcycling just might begin here...

While the world waits for Suzuki to put their hydrogen fuel-cell powered Crosscage into production, China has already started making – and even exporting – hydrogen fuel-cell powered mopeds.

According to a report on Shanghai Daily, a Chinese company, Shanghai Pearl Hydrogen Power Resource Technology has been exporting fuel-cell mopeds since May this year. The company has, till now, sent 30 of these two-wheelers to England, Spain and the United States.

Fuel-cell bikes use hydrogen to generate electricity, which in turn powers an electric motor which drives the bike. Shanghai Pearl’s fuel-cell bikes can travel about 75km on a full tank of fuel – that’s about 50gm of hydrogen. Tanking up on hydrogen takes 20 minutes and costs about US$0.30.

Shanghai Pearl hopes to find a market for its fuel-cell bikes in the US, Canada and Europe, particularly Germany, France and Italy. In Spain, the company’s bikes were sold at the equivalent of US$2,900 though it’s confident that the price can be brought down by around US$600. SP produced 100 units of its hydrogen bike this year, and hopes to expand capacity to 1,000 units by 2011.

Another Chinese company, Shanghai Shen-Li High-Tech, also makes various hydrogen fuel-cell powered passenger cars and city buses, which are already in use in China. The company has even supplied several fuel-cell buses for the ongoing Beijing Olympics.

While Japanese and European manufacturers have dominated the world of motorcycles in the petrol engine era, it seems the Chinese are already getting ahead of everyone else when it comes to the next step in motorcycle evolution – hydrogen fuel-cell powered bikes.

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