Michelin Hy-Light Hydrogen Car Incorporates Future Technologies

Innovative in-wheel suspension and electric motors propel fuel cell hybrid-electric technology demonstrator

Published: 14-Oct-2004

At the sixth annual Challenge Bibendum, the French tire-giant  no longer seems content to be just the event's principle sponsor and organizer. Michelin is using the four-day event in Shanghai to debut it's own "green" automobile. 

Powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and super capacitors, which store regenerative braking energy while also helping the car accelerate, the Michelin Hy-Light incorporates innovative, in-wheel electric motors. The car is virtually pollution free, especially when its hydrogen is created from renewable sources like wind and solar.

Also built into each front wheel is an active electric suspension and chassis stability control device to absorb shocks and monitor breaking behavior and cornering stress.  This design eliminates many of the usual components found in the conventional gasoline-engine vehicle including the gear box, clutch, universal joint, anti-roll bar and transmission shaft. 

Michelin reports that the prototype vehicle has a range of  400 km (248 mi) at 80 km/h (50 mph) cruising speed.  Acceleration is 0 - 100 km/h (62 mph) in 12 seconds; and the top speed 130 km/h (80 mph).

The car weighs 850kg (1873 lbs.) and is capable of switching from 2 to 4 wheel traction.

The Hy-Light is but one of some 140 motor vehicles from 106 companies, forty percent of them Chinese, registered to take part in the Challenge, which Michelin launched in 1998.  According to the company, the Challenge Bibendum has "quickly become a premier forum for industry, policy makers and experts to review the latest technologies and progress made in the area of alternative energies." 

While many of the vehicles are powered by conventional gasoline and diesel engines running on alternative fuels that include ethanol, natural gas and biodiesel, a significant number are electrically-powered, either as hybrids, fuel cells or battery-electric. This year, 46 of the entrants are battery-powered, 15 are hybrids and nine are fuel cell-driven, like the Hy-Light.

Michelin asserts," This unique event also serves as a testing ground and it is the only one that showcases concept cars featuring technologies often never unveiled before".

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