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First Drive: Mazda Hydrogen RX-8 and Premacy

Clean, green…and slow.

by on Aug.20, 2009

It looks like a conventional Mazda RX-8, but it's powered by clean hydrogen.

It looks like a conventional Mazda RX-8, but it's powered by clean hydrogen.

There’s a buzzing noise coming from under the hood.  It sounds a bit like an old airplane I think, but my co-pilot is less charitable: “a vacuum cleaner that’s just swallowed something big,” she offers.

It takes a bit of getting used to driving advanced technology, I’ve learned over the years, especially when it’s not yet ready for prime time, but it’s still quite revealing to get behind the wheel of this particular Mazda RX-8.  Despite its modest – and hopefully temporary – drawbacks, this sports car prototype could be the way of the future for the automobile.

Alternative Power!

Alternative Power!

That’s because it’s running on hydrogen, rather than gasoline.  The lightweight gas has been hailed as the potential breakthrough the auto industry needs because it could cut our ties to imported oil and, just as importantly, eliminate the production of noxious tailpipe emissions, including CO2, which has been linked to global warming.  Burn hydrogen and the only exhaust gas is water vapor and the slightest trace of NOx. Before the e-mails start, I know, the big emissions problem is how you make the hydrogen.

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