Aston Martin Rapide Hydrogen Racer To Debut Next Month

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2013 Aston Martin Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S race car

2013 Aston Martin Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S race car

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Aston Martins evoke images of racing success and James Bond, but green technology hasn't often been at the top of the company's agenda.

Times change though, and next month the British luxury automaker will field a hybrid hydrogen Rapide S race car in the ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance race.

That's hybrid in the literal sense, rather than the technical sense--there's no electric drivetrain to be found under the Rapide's classy curves.

Instead, the car can run on both hydrogen and gasoline fuels either individually, or in a blend.

The Rapide's 6.0-liter V-12 engine has been prepared in partnership with hydrogen experts Alset Global, allowing it to run on the gas. Performance is essentially unaffected, and the race car is still capable of topping 190 mph given enough space.

As well as typical race car modifications like roll cages, fuel cut-offs, racing seats and harnesses and the removal of the car's luxury acccoutrements, some special changes were needed to enable the car to run on the new fuel.

Four carbon-fiber storage tanks hold 7.7 pounds of hydrogen at over 5,000 psi. Two are next to the driver, and another two sit in the trunk.

2013 Aston Martin Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S race car

2013 Aston Martin Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S race car

Enlarge Photo
A dedicated electronic control unit for the car's engine management system can choose between hydrogen, gasoline or a mixture, where the hydrogen is pumped through a dedicated hydrogen fuel rail into the engine.

It's the first hydrogen-powered race car to compete in an international event, though the reality isn't quite as green as the concept.

The project is essentially a trial run, and while the Rapide will hopefully complete every lap of the event, there's a chance that only one of those laps will be entirely under hydrogen power. It's more a case of showing it can be done, than powering the vehicle for a whole race.

It's a start though, and as such we commend Aston Martin's efforts. Perhaps, if the car proves quick enough, they might try for a few more all-hydrogen laps at next year's event.

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