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Car Brief: Mazda 5 Hydrogen Hybrid Concept

A smart car gets smarter

Christian Wardlaw
by Christian Wardlaw
January 13, 2006

Forget about DaimlerChrysler’s so-called Smart car – the Mazda 5 is about the smartest car you can buy today. It’s inexpensive, fuel efficient, roomy, and fun-to-drive. And with the introduction of the Mazda 5 Hydrogen Hybrid Concept at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it gets the equivalent of a graduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Why is this car so smart? It can run on either gasoline or hydrogen, thanks to its dual-fuel rotary engine. And to further maximize performance and efficiency while reducing pollution, the Mazda 5 Hydrogen Hybrid Concept has a hybrid-electric drive system to boost power, cut fuel consumption, and reduce emissions. Best of all, the Mazda 5 Hydrogen Hybrid Concept manages to squeeze all this technology into the existing package with no loss of interior room or comfort. There’s still space for six passengers in comfortable seats, or you can reconfigure the 5 for maximum cargo-hauling capacity. Smarter still, and the icing on a very useful cake, is the fact that this advanced system is a dual-fuel arrangement. That means Mazda understands that a vehicle like the 5 Hydrogen Hybrid, if it were to be produced, would need to bridge the gap between a scarcity of hydrogen filling stations and an unknown point in the future when every Chevron and Texaco is serving it up next to the unleaded pumps. Mazda’s hydrogen fuel technology development is still in progress, but we like the direction the company is headed. If we handed out grades for this kind of thing, the Mazda 5 Hydrogen Hybrid would get an A+.

Photos courtesy of Mazda USA


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