FIAT, Italy’s largest carmaker considers that fuel cell, a technology that converts the chemical energy from a fuel, (in this case hydrogen) into electricity has no huge efficiency gains over a standard diesel engine.
In addition, at least in Italy, the automaker considers that hydrogen is too difficult to pump along pipelines across the country in the way that natural gas is distributed.
Fiat offers the “natural-power” Panda, a vehicle that can burn either gasoline or CNG (Compressed Natural Gas a.k.a. methane). The chassis is the same of the 4×4 Panda the space of the rear wheels differential is occupied by two methane tanks allowing over 240 km of autonomy on gas only.
The Italian carmaker announced that its 0.9 TwinAir Turbo bi-fuel methane-powered has received the ‘Best Green Engine of the Year 2013’ title, after the petrol edition won the Engine of the Year in 2011.
The engine is available on the actual Panda models, and 500L Natural Power models as well as on the Lancia Ypsilon EcoChic.
Between 1997 and 2013, Fiat sold over 560,000 natural-gas-fueled vehicles and commercial vehicles in Europe.