Hydrogen Scorpion CarA Texas startup has finally pulled the wraps off its 40-mpg, 450-horsepower Scorpion roadster, a hand-built hydrogen-burning "eco-exotic" that is sexier than Angelina Jolie and has the performance to provide more grins than nitrous oxide.
Ronn Motor Company unveiled the Scorpion today at the big SEMA, or Speciality Equipment Market Association, automotive trade show in Las Vegas, which may be the perfect place to debut so flashy — and innovative — a car. The company hopes the Scorpion does for hydrogen what the Tesla Roadster has done for batteries.
"We want to build cool cars, just more responsibly”, company president Ronn Maxwell told Wired.com. "Our hope with the Scorpion is to implement a paradigm shift not only in how the industry looks at supercars but at cars in general."
The Scorpion gets its sting from a hydrogen delivery system the company calls H2GO. While cars like the Honda FCX Clarity and Chevrolet Equinox use hydrogen fuel cells to drive electric motors, the Scorpion uses electrolysis to convert water into gaseous hydrogen. The hydrogen is mixed with 91-octane gasoline to improve the fuel economy and reduce the emissions of the car's 3.5-liter internal combustion engine.
Maxwell, a 40-year auto industry vet and lifelong gearhead who holds several patents, is using the limited production — just 200 will be built — Scorpion to prove the technology works and legitimize the H2GO system the company will begin selling for $1,000 early next year. The way he sees it, if H2GO works on the Scorpion, it'll work on your Civic.
Maxwell didn't offer much in the way of specifics, saying the publicly traded company is still dotting the i's and crossing the t's on the venture. But he says H2GO is good for a 15 percent to 33 percent improvement in mileage, a noticeable increase in power and a significant reduction in overall emissions. The company is pursuing EPA certification of the Scorpion so people can get a better idea of what the system is capable of. Maxwell insists the 40-mpg figure is the real deal.
Photos courtesy Ronn Motor Co.
The trucking industry has been using hydrogen boosting for years. But the Scorpion is significant because it uses what the company calls real-time hydrogen delivery as part of an original factory design. And unlike BMW’s Hydrogen 7, Scorpion does not keep any 30-gallon tanks full of liquid hydrogen lying around at −253 °C (−423.4 °F).
“Our system does not require any pressurized hydrogen storage. It’s completely safe and uses water from your garden hose to create hydrogen on demand. We are simply increasing the efficiency of what’s already there”, says company COO Damon Kuhn. “Even better, the infrastructure to support this technology is here right now, not 10 years from now.”
Kuhn is referring to the biggest challenges to hydrogen's use in vehicles — the need for a fueling infrastructure, a venture that by any measure will take many years and many millions of dollars.
Ronn Motors is confident that the sexy Scorpion will top 200 mph. The chrome-moly chassis and carbon-fiber body surrounds a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 in a car that weighs just 2,200 pounds. The engine was sourced from Acura — it's the same mill found in the TL Type S, albeit turbocharged — and mated to a six-speed gearbox. The car will set you back $150,000, and if 450 ponies isn't enough, another $100 grand will get you a tweaked version with another 150 horsepower.
Tom duPont, publisher of the duPont registry, pulled the sheet off the Scorpion this morning and said, “If it was a square box with a bunch of batteries, I wouldn’t be getting pre-orders from NBA basketball players. The exotic styling and amazing performance mixed in with the environmental angle is really inspiring a lot of attention.”