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Hydrogen fuel cell car puts kids in the driver’s seat

IN a twist that's going to turn a few heads in the toy vehicle category and perhaps the fossil fuel industry, a Shanghai-based commercial and industrial fuel cell manufacturer has created the H-Racer. The toy car is propelled by a fuel cell that comes complete with its own solar-powered hydrogen refueling station.
October 1, 2006

IN a twist that’s going to turn a few heads in the toy vehicle category and perhaps the fossil fuel industry, a Shanghai-based commercial and industrial fuel cell manufacturer has created the H-Racer. The toy car is propelled by a fuel cell that comes complete with its own solar-powered hydrogen refueling station.

The educational toy is ‘the first mass consumer product available showing people how fuel cell technology works,’ says Justin Barrow, global sales and marketing manager for Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies.

Horizon isn’t a toy company per se, but the H-Racer, which it debuted at the Tokyo Toy Fair this summer, is aimed at educating kids and encouraging an interest in using fuel cells. The hope is that one day today’s kids will drive life-size versions of the car to their grownup jobs.

The 6.5-inch x 3-inch H-Racer has a suggested retail price of US$110 and comes in the form of a kit that kids can put together easily, giving them a chance to see and touch the fuel cell that fits into the base of the car and connects to a tiny electric motor. To keep the motor running, kids can then fill the hydrogen refueling station with water where its solar panel powers an electolizer that converts water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then pumped out of the station into the car’s onboard tank just like gas. Kids can watch the blue storage tank inside the car filling up. Once the car is unplugged from the station and turned on, it can zoom around for more than 100 yards. Barrow says the next generation of H-Racer will be remote controlled.

Already the tiny car has been nominated for the London Science Museum’s Smart Toy Award, the Intel Environment Award in Silicon’s Valley’s Tech Museum, the Well-Tech Award from the Leonardo Da Vinci Science and Technology Museum in Milan and the Young Inventors Award, also in Italy.

Horizon plans to show off the toy at the New York and Nuremberg Toy Fairs and is looking for partners to build a distribution network. KC

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