Fuels of the future: a combination
There are those who have chosen to diversify in the current market, spreading risk across multiple alternative fuels if one methodology takes precedence, becoming the dominant force in the near future.
In late 2021, Hyundai revealed that they are set to become one of the first manufacturers to cease production of internal combustion engines in its entirety, thus kick-starting a huge shift at their HQ which will result in their team, factory and resources being realigned to focus on electric mobility. Improve, adapt, overcome, and all that.
Hyundai is dovetailing this seismic shakeup of its resources with its ongoing hydrogen exploits. Most recently, this has been accentuated by the buzz around its N Vision 74 concept – an innovative hydrogen hybrid powered by twin 4.2kg hydrogen tanks and a 62.4kWh battery. Unfortunately, all of this exciting new tech comes at a cost and that is weight. The amalgamation of these parts tips the scales at approximately two-and-a-half tonnes.
By far though, the manufacturer that is garnering the most information, straddling the lines across all three mediums covered in this series is Porsche. The German sports car juggernaut has been entirely transparent with its electrification and carbon neutrality targets, with 2030 as a realistic target milestone for 80 per cent of its portfolio to be purely electric.
But that’s not all. Simultaneously, they have been keeping abreast of other alternative fuels, developing a high-performance hydrogen unit, and extensively researching synthetic fuels, all in a bid to keep the revered 911 as a non-electric model for as long as feasibly possible.
As with much of the automotive sector, Porsche utilises the high-pressure developmental testbed of motorsport to further these efforts. The Porsche Formula E Team has been a part of the championship for several years now and took its first victory this season, whilst Formula 1’s next generation of synthetic fuel-powered racers are still very firmly on its radar, despite a potential deal with Red Bull Racing falling through at the last hurdle.
The multifaceted strategies put forth by these manufacturers are admirable, and may even hold the key to the future of the automotive industry. By understanding two or more of these options, an opportunity to combine them may present itself and become a superior choice.
Each side of this debate has a compelling justification, as well as puissant backers in the form of global manufacturers or governing bodies. Consequently, it seems a clear-cut verdict isn’t possible in this instance.
The only natural conclusion is the discovery of a genuine, viable alternative to traditional fuels that presents a minimal impact on infrastructure and economics for the populace. It could be an evolution of something discussed in this series, perhaps it will be a combination, or maybe it is yet to be discovered.