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This Alpine Sports Car Has a Hydrogen Combustion Turbo Engine

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Some automakers are adamant that the combustion engine is worth saving. Toyota believes it can be done by making the ICE burn hydrogen instead of fossil fuels. Porsche and Lamborghini think synthetic fuels might be the gas engine’s savior. Renault’s performance brand Alpine is on team hydrogen, and this Alpenglow Hy4 is a proof of concept.

An evolution of the static 2022 Alpenglow concept, the Hy4 is a running prototype. It rocks a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine developing 340 horsepower. The four-cylinder mill revs to 7,000 rpm and feeds off from three hydrogen tanks, each carrying 4.6 pounds of hydrogen at 700 bar of pressure. Output is channeled to the road via a sequential transmission.

If you’re finding the four-pot to be underwhelming, Alpine is working on a bigger engine. An all-new V-6 developed entirely in-house specifically for hydrogen applications is coming. A subsequent variant of the Alpenglow, possibly called the Hy6, will premiere in late 2024. In the meantime, the Hy4 is about to hit the track.

It’ll make its public debut tomorrow during the six-hour endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps as part of the FIA WEC 2024 season. It will then head to France to attend the 24 Hours of Le Mans scheduled for June 14-15.

The Hy4 is not a spitting image of the original Alpenglow concept since Alpine tweaked the body. It has a modified crash structure to accommodate a two-seat cabin while the hydrogen tanks are embedded into the side pods. It’s also a bit taller than before and has a reworked aero package, accentuated by the new roof scoop.

While the Hy4 is a track-only machine, Alpine believes the powertrain technology makes sense in a street-legal model as well. The French niche marque goes as far as to say a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine represents a “tremendously promising solution for road use.”

The idea of modifying a combustion engine to run on hydrogen is much older than Toyota’s experiments with the GR Yaris and GR Corolla. BMW had a V-12 7 Series with a 6.0-liter unit running on hydrogen in 2005. Going even further back in time, the German luxury brand developed a 5 Series (E12) to run on liquid hydrogen in the late 1970s. It’s the 520h featured below in a BMW Group Classic video.

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