Norway, the world's third biggest exporter of crude oil and natural gas, is advancing with its national hydrogen energy project. Mazda will contribute to the creation of a hydrogen society by providing its hydrogen rotary engine vehicle, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, to explore the possibilities of zero CO2 emissions and liberation from dependence on fossil fuels.
Global warming is becoming increasingly prevalent. Most countries on the planet have now joined the fight to reduce emissions of CO2, which is considered to be the main cause of global warming. About 20% of the global CO2 emissions volume comes from the transport sector, and vehicle manufacturers are faced with the challenge of finding ways to cut the amount of CO2 emitted by engines, such as through improving fuel economy.
At the same time, global fossil fuel reserves are noticeably dwindling. The search is on for next generation energy sources that can support a sustainable society without depending on crude oil. The most likely candidate for this is hydrogen. Hydrogen is a clean, renewable energy carrier that could possibly replace fossil fuels.
There are two ways to power a vehicle using hydrogen: convert hydrogen to electricity, as in a fuel cell vehicle (FCV), or burn it in an internal combustion engine, as in a hydrogen vehicle. Mazda realized the potential benefits of hydrogen at an early stage, and has since been engaged in development of hydrogen vehicles. In February 2006, Mazda became the first company in the world to commercialize a hydrogen rotary engine vehicle, when it began commercial leasing of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE in Japan. Since then, Mazda has delivered RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles to national and local government authorities as well as private enterprises.