Sunday, June 15, 2008


A Japanese company has invented an electric-powered and environmentally-friendly car that it says runs solely on water.

Genepax unveiled the car in the western city of Osaka on Thursday, saying that a litre of any kind of water - rain, river or sea - was all you needed to get the engine going for about an hour at a speed of 80km.

'The car will continue to run as long as you have a bottle of water to top up from time to time,' Genepax's chief executive officer Kiyoshi Hirasawa told TV Tokyo.

'It does not require you to build up an infrastructure to recharge your batteries, which is usually the case for most electric cars,' he added.

Once the water is poured into the tank at the back of the car, a generator breaks it down and uses it to create electrical power, TV Tokyo said.

Whether the car makes it into showrooms remains to be seen. Genepax said it had just applied for a patent and is hoping to collaborate with Japanese car manufacturers.

Most big automakers, meanwhile, are working on fuel cell cars that run on hydrogen and emit - not consume - water.

Hydrogen technology has been around for decades, but serious study of its use in cars is relatively new.

General Motors (GM) and Honda, like most other carmakers developing the technology, mix hydrogen gas with oxygen from the air in a device called a fuel cell to create electricity which drives electric motors.

Proponents note that hydrogen vehicles emit no greenhouses gases, unlike petrol-powered cars. They have a greater range than today's electric cars and can be refuelled faster than a battery can be charged.

Several car makers are also testing plug-in hybrids which could allow owners to plug the vehicle's battery into a standard wall outlet to recharge it. GM is developing such a vehicle - the Chevrolet Volt - which it hopes to launch in 2010.

And Toyota, the world's top maker of petrol-electric hybrids, announced on Wednesday that it would introduce a plug-in hybrid with next-generation lithium-ion batteries by 2010.

Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in laptops and cellphones, can store more energy in smaller packages and are seen as crucial for extending the cruising distance of purely electric vehicles.

Reuters, Los Angeles Times, AP

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