Cars of tomorrow will walk a tightrope between different and often conflicting needs: low energy consumption and low emissions, high safety, great flexibility of use, reduced manufacturing and running costs.
Fiat Auto has adopted a two-pronged approach to the problem: on the one hand it is continuing with its work of refining conventional petrol or diesel-driven engines; on the other it is developing vehicles with internal combustion engines driven by methane and also cars with alternative propulsion systems that produce no emissions at all (zero emission vehicles).
In the short term, methane fuel systems are the most appropriate technological option for resolving problems of pollution in Italy's towns and cities. In the long term, the use of hydrogen as an energy source for vehicle propulsion certainly represents the most interesting prospect for the future.
The attention of the major car manufacturers in this field is now mainly directed toward Fuel Cells known as PEMs (Proton Exchange Membranes) that can generate electricity through a process involving the chemical recombination of hydrogen and oxygen. This type of Fuel Cell offers numerous advantages: fast response to the vehicle's energy requirements, high specific power and energy density compared to other Fuel Cell technologies and relatively simple construction. All these features make PEMs particularly well-suited for the production of light, sturdy and reliable generators to be used in on-board electrical power generation.
The Panda Hydrogen is part of this research strand. This will be the first Fuel Cell car produced by Fiat Auto with performance and passenger room standards comparable with those of conventional cars. Experimental fleets of the Panda Hydrogen will be built up with the aim of testing Fuel Cell technology in urban environments.Published 25 October 2003