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Alpine developing hydrogen-powered ICEs

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Alpine is currently working on hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines. For the Dieppe-based brand, this could be a complementary proposal to the all-electric, reserved for niche vehicles.

Alpine is currently developing a 100% electric range. This will consist of a sporty city car based on the future Renault 5 electric, the GT crossover and the A110 replacement developed with Lotus, which will arrive in 2026. But the brand of Dieppe could not abandon the thermal for all that. It would currently work on explosion engines using hydrogen as fuel, following the example of Toyota which tests a mechanics of this type in competition since several months.

Electricity and hydrogen in parallel

“The internal combustion engine can live beyond purely fossil fuel,” Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine, told Belgian journalists at DH Les Sports+. “We have a joint project that links Viry’s engine engineers with Renault’s engine engineers. They are developing hydrogen versions of combustion engines applicable to mass production or to more limited series, such as ours,” he revealed, envisaging hydrogen combustion as an alternative to electric motorizations.

In the columns of the British publication Autocar, Laurent Rossi added: “Hydrogen has the ecological merit of being very compatible with electrification, because the parallel path to hydrogen as a fuel is hydrogen for fuel cells, which produces electricity. We want to find alternatives that are not necessarily incompatible with electrification because electrification is, like it or not, the future of the automobile for at least 60 to 70 percent of the fleet.” The official envisions hydrogen as a fuel for “utilities with a large payload and fixed routes,” but also for “high-powered cars.”

An Alpine prototype with a hydrogen V6?

Alpine is currently studying the design of a hydrogen-powered prototype. Laurent Rossi explains: “We think that a demonstrator could be made with hydrogen as fuel. This could then be transposed to very high performance models and, why not, to road cars. We know that Le Mans is promoting hydrogen fuel cells, which is a step forward. But we want to go further and use hydrogen as a fuel with which we could power a V6 hybrid.” A dedicated prototype, a la the electric Volkswagen ID.R, “that could break the Nürburgring record or something like that” would be under consideration, according to the Alpine boss.

Renault multiplies hydrogen concepts

Renault has recently presented several hydrogen vehicles, but all of them are equipped with a fuel cell, whether it is the Master H2-Tech or the Scénic Vision concept. However, they are unique in that their powertrain combines this energy source with a small battery in a hydrogen/electric hybrid configuration. And Alpine has created the A4810 supercar concept with the Turin-based design institute IED, whose only mechanical detail revealed is that it uses hydrogen to run, without further details. However, even more than for all-electric (especially since the political pressure in favor of the latter solution is strong), the lack of infrastructure dedicated to hydrogen would reserve this solution for a niche. “Perhaps hydrogen will be a viable alternative for uses with atypical demand, even if it is a very small portion of the fleet. For example, for very heavy loads, in customer use as well as in competition use. So we’re exploring that,” concludes Laurent Rossi.

Nedim Husomanovic

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