Ferrari Keeps Combustion Alive And Roaring With Hydrogen Engine Plans

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Ferrari Keeps Combustion Alive And Roaring With Hydrogen Engine Plans

The world is changing, McLaren is pedaling hybrid hypercars, Porsche has an EV selling like hot cakes and even Lamborghini has fitted battery packs to its latest cars in search of more performance. Now, Ferrari is looking for ways to add hydrogen power to its cars, but it could bring with it some very un-Ferrari qualities.

The famed Italian supercar maker has filed a patent for a new hydrogen combustion powertrain, reports Motor Authority. The move could allow Ferrari to keep the combustion engine alive and roaring as countries around the world move away from burning fuels to power their cars.

While that’s exciting to hear, hydrogen does come with its issues. Firstly, it’s not quite as power dense as gasoline, so much larger fuel tanks are required to give you the same kinds of range and performance that you might expect from a roaring V12-powered Ferrari. This means that future hydrogen-powered Ferraris may not be quite as sleek and agile as their gas-powered counterparts. As Motor Authority explains:

Hydrogen also isn’t as energy-dense as gasoline, so it requires a larger volume of onboard storage to deliver equivalent range to a gasoline car. Ferrari admits in the patent application that a car with a hydrogen-combustion engine will be “longer and heavier (for the same range) than a similar car equipped with a petrol-powered internal-combustion engine.”

Quick refueling times might mitigate any range deficit, but internal-combustion cars burning hydrogen would face the same infrastructure issues as fuel-cell vehicles. As a recent InsideEVs report notes, the limited hydrogen infrastructure has proven unreliable, frustrating owners of the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle.

That limited infrastructure might be a worry for anyone planning an adventurous road trip to test out their hydrogen-powered Ferrari. Here in the U.S., hydrogen filling stations are basically limited to California and locations across that state are closing. In Ferrari’s native Europe, there are just 265 hydrogen filling stations across the continent, compared with 140,000 gas stations.

In another hit to hydrogen’s credentials, the fuel also isn’t always as green as you might be hoping for. Sure, at the tailpipe burning hydrogen releases only water vapor into the world, but the production of hydrogen to power cars can be quite the polluter.

Hydrogen production methods that rely on fossil fuels can “be as dirty as coal,” reports Motor Authority, while if the gas is created using electrolysis powered by electricity from renewable sources it can have “low overall emissions.”