Fiat Seicento Stars In First Fuel Cell And Hybrid Cars Rally

Fiat Auto’s Seicento HYDROGEN Prototype

Fiat Seicento

Last weekend, Fiat Auto’s Seicento HYDROGEN prototype took part in the first reliability event for hydrogen-powered vehicles, finishing second in the fuel cell category, and winning the category for compressed hydrogen-powered vehicles. Final points took into account total fuel consumption, the fuel consumed-to-vehicle-weight ratio, and any penalties accumulated during the event.

Organised by the Monte Carlo Automobile Club under supervision of the IAF (International Automobile Federation), the event took place on Saturday, 2 April. Cars started out from Lugano, covering a mixed motorway-main road route totalling 410 km, taking competitors through Turin, Cuneo, the Col di Tenda and Val Roia, so as to arrive in the Principality of Monaco.

Originally presented in 2003, the Fiat Seicento HYDROGEN prototype uses hydrogen fuel to feed a Metallic Hydride stack, (weight 20 kg), capable of producing 48 V of electrical energy, with a maximum power output of 20 kW. The Fuel Cell is part of a hybrid system equipped with a 30 kW electric traction engine. The Fiat Seicento HYDROGEN incorporates innovative solutions such as the special dynamic compressor developed by the Fiat Research Centre, which delivers a very high dynamic output, low noise and high efficiency; it doesn’t produce any polluting emissions, nor does it generate carbon dioxide (CO2).

The Seicento HYDROGEN research car possesses an axle-power output of 30 kW, a top speed of 130 km/h and a range of 200 km with hydrogen at 350 bar. On this occasion it was driven by two research engineers - Paolo Marchese and Roberto Aimasso - from the Fiat Research Centre’s Vehicle Fuel Cell team.

In the medium to long-term, Fuel Cell technology seems to offer a solution for environmental problems associated with cars. Fiat Auto is investing in this technology, and working as part of an international team, is developing and evaluating various technical solutions and problems associated with motor vehicle applications.

Always at the forefront when it comes to respect for the environment, Fiat Auto is focusing on natural gas engines, which are one of the company’s guidelines for the future. Evidence of this is the wide range of Bipower products, designed to respond to the needs of both professional operators and the general public: from the Multipla to the Ducato, from the Punto to the Doblò.

A common feature for all Fiat Bipower models is the integration of two fuel systems - petrol and natural gas (CNG). Petrol is always used to start the engine, after which the fuel feed system immediately and automatically shifts to natural gas. In this way, the petrol fuel system remains efficient but is only used when starting up or when natural gas is running low (ie. when gas cylinder pressure is nearing the minimum operating limit). However, drivers can always switch over to petrol at the push of a button.

Published 12 April 2005 Melanie Carter

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