What kind of chemistry do you have with your car? Love it? Loathe it? Let us know and you could win a £300 John Lewis voucher | No thanks

KIA Borrego FCEV 2010 Video Test

Sun, 30 May 2010

This is a test of KIA's Borrego Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle that is due to go into limited production of 1,000 vehicles in 2012

Eventually, fossil and biofuels will either run out, be too expensive to exploit or be insufficient for World needs.

No one knows when, but the smart money is on being prepared for this. And while hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) may not be the future for everyone (because everyone won’t be able to afford them), they are, at least, a future for mass and individual mobility.

Hyundai/KIA began its research into FCEVs in year 2000. Now, its $60 million Eco-Tech Research Institute at Mabuk in Gyong-Gi province, South Korea under Dr Sae Hoon Kim has not only worked through a series of prototypes, it has one production ready and intends to build 1,000 in 2012.

Hydrogen fuel can be obtained as a by-product of chemical production, from waste heat from nuclear power generation, and from wind and solar power.

Germany has the capability to produce enough to power 750,000 vehicles a year. Korea can power 500,000 vehicles a year. And obviously the sooner these vehicles are on the road, the longer fossil fuels and biofuels will last for other vehicles.

Compared to petrol cars at 16%, plug in electric cars at 21% and hybrids at 26%, the wheel-to-wheel efficiency of a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle is 42%.

This is because, unlike a piston engine that can only utilise the forces of an explosion in one direction, a hydrogen fuel cell harnesses all the power produced.

In the case of the KIA Borrego, this fuel is stored in a super capacitor battery, from which it is fed to an electric motor.

Extensive testing indicate a fuel cell service life of around 10 years, with the cell then operating to around 80% of peak performance. So still functional, but not as efficient as when new. KIA is proposing a 10-year drivetrain guarantee.

The problems of cold starts in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees centigrade have now been conquered by preconditioning systems. Crash tests have shown the tanks to be safer than CNG tanks.

The only obstacles are cost, which eventually has to be brought down to around £40,000. And infrastructure to create sufficient network of hydrogen refuelling stations for a vehicle to be viable.

Estimated pre-tax cost of sufficient hydrogen to travel 430 miles is about £20. And of course, an FCEV emits zero CO2.

The KIA Borrego FCEV certainly drove well, with rapid acceleration, almost total silence, and comfortable ride quality. To drive, it’s at least the equal of the Honda FCX Clarity.

Maintenance is relatively simple, even DIY, involving no more than replacing the demineraliser to cool the fuel cell and the air filter, preferably on an annual basis. There is no engine oil, nor engine oil filter to change.

We should all be grateful to companies like Hyundai/KIA, Honda, Renault-Nissan, Ford, Opel, Toyota and Mercedes Benz for pushing ahead with the development of production ready FCEVs even though the World is not quite ready for them.

Because if they hadn’t, then quite a lot of public and personal transport might have no future at all.

KIA Borrego FCEV

Type:  Fuel Cell + 450 volt Supercapacitor

Fuel Cell Output:  154 horsepower (115kW)

Additional Power Output:  134 horsepower Supercapacitor (100kW)

Traction Motor Output:  147 horsepower (110kW)

Dimensions:  4,879mm x 1,915mm x 1,811mm

Curb Weight:  2,250kg

Max. Speed:  100 mph

Zero to 60 mph Acceleration:  12.8 seconds

Max. Distance:  430 miles with three tanks

Fuel economy:  56 mpg




Read more


Ask Honest John

Value my car