back to article Morgan shows 'light & slippery' fuel-cell car concept

Here at the Reg we aren't motoring hacks, we're technology hacks. So to us, most of the cars here at the British Motor Show are a bit boring. Internal-combustion engine? Come on. Battery car? Needs to be special. Hydrogen fuel cell? Even Nigel Tufnel has one (shared with his less famous wife, Jamie Lee Curtis). Anyway, fuel-cell …


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  1. Jeff Bond


    Hydrogen powered cars are pointless and probably more harmful to the environment than fossil fueled cars, until a large scale carbon neutral method of producing hydrogen is found.


  2. Matt V

    So pleased to see this article...

    ... because there's probably a higher correlation of Linux Loving, Mog Motoring, Reg Readers than one might first imagine. Me included.

    The Go sign, because, as he says, "everyone should have more than one car anyway, for different kinds of driving." :)

  3. Ted Treen


    So Broon (and his Darling little puppet) are now going to work out how to punitively tax Hydrogen, water and solar power for a home hydrogen station.

    Still, that would expose his green taxes as being the two-faced scam that they are.

    I hope my MI5 file's amongst all the "temporarily mislaid" gov't records, but if not then I guess I'll be away for a while. At least 42 days.....

    Alien, cos I reckon Darling's definitive proof of life(-ish) that is "not of this world"...

  4. Bill

    One-sided equations

    You have fallen into the same old trap of berating the method of production of alternative fuels for being environmentally unfriendly, whilst forgetting issues around the production of petrol. Let's have a level playing field - petrol production causes CO2 emissions too, but you never see that mentioned, only the CO2 emissions in actually driving the car around.

    Until you factor in the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of the petrol production and distribution, all your equations will be fundamentally flawed.

    Lets have some proper science in here please!

  5. Robert E A Harvey
    Paris Hilton

    Why now?

    Why now? This car has been on their web site for 2 years, and they have shown it at several motor shows. AIUI production is fully sold. So why did the story surface today?

    I would guess that it's because Honda are making a noise about being 'first' at birmingham university and someone wanted to remind them they aren't

    Paris, because it is more beautiful than she is.

  6. Hugh_Pym

    Not niche

    "After all," he says cheerfully, "everyone should have more than one car anyway, for different kinds of driving. That's just common sense."

    Of course this is common sense. I shouldn't commute 50 weeks in the Family Estate just because I need it for two weeks in the summer. I should have a town car (Not the Lincoln type) for nipping about and a Truck for when I need to carry/tow stuff. It could pay for the extra car just in fuel saving and depreciation due to mileage.

    Its difficult to make the case against that except for the ridiculous Tax and Insurance system that expects you to pay for things you don't use...

    ...that and the lack of somewhere to keep two cars.

  7. Paul

    RE: One-sided equations

    And on the same note, this dose get to me when people say "well you cant make the fule green at the moment". Yes, and you never will if noone trys.

    As far as I can see there is no current way to make Petrol Green (Even Bio Deisel is not exactly good for the world), so I think hydrogen is a good way to go. Yes, at the moment it isent all that green, but this isent a case of no-one knows how to, just that the technology isent fully working yet.

    Saying "the car isent green" is incorect. The fule production method isnt green. You cant say the same for Petrol.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Centralised management of pollution

    When you produce your energy in a central location - such as a power station or gas refinery etc. - it is much easier to manage the pollution. Whilst cars do carry catalytic converters and the like they aren't a match for the huge exhaust scrubbers used in industrial systems which don't have to be light weight as they never move.

    However, the use of aluminium, wood and leather shouldn't be overlooked from the green standpoint.

  9. Andrew

    Re: One-sided equations

    Petrol is a bye-product of hydrocracking which people will still do because last time I checked people still loved plastic, perfume and jet fuel amongst other things.

    Compared to these things petrol is not very profitable for the oil companies, i they could refine it any further and not produce petrol they would.

    Including the CO2 cost of petrol production in equation is not correct on this basis as hydrogen fuel cells dont replace this process. On th other hand hydrogen production only serves to produce hydrogen.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "only 22 kilowatts"

    Umm... Most houses have a 100A fuse - the "board" fuse.

    So the most your entire house could draw from the grid would be "only" 24KW.

  11. Charles Tsang

    @Jeff Bond - Hydrogen production solved?

    Funnily enough one of the indirect fringe benefits of the Pebble Bed High Temperature Nuclear Reactors is that the high temperatures make it easier to produce Hydrogen.

    "Tsinghua's program for Nuclear and New Energy technology also plans in 2006 to begin developing a system to use the high temperature gas of a pebble bed reactor to crack steam to produce hydrogen."

    So maybe this is the way forward?

    China seems to think so with an ambitious program of Nuclear Power generation based on Pebble Bed reactors.

  12. Gordon Pryra

    From Hero to Zero in 2 paragraphs

    From green Hero, making eco-friendly cars (well more eco-friendly than normal)

    to "Idiot who opened his mouth and ruined it all"

    "After all," he says cheerfully, "everyone should have more than one car anyway, for different kinds of driving. That's just common sense."

  13. TeeCee Gold badge
    Paris Hilton

    Common sense.

    "everyone should have more than one car anyway, for different kinds of driving."

    So, taxing the cobs off the big family wagon that you need so you can't afford to own the economical little runabout in addition for regular use with fewer occupants makes sense how, exactly?

    I worked this out a long time ago. Hell, even Paris would have worked this out a long time ago.

  14. Frank Bough


    Have you even BEEN in a Moggy? This whole project is pathetic - plug-in electrics are the future, simply because their design constraints FORCE designers to optimise for efficiency. Why are we still wasting our time with Hydrogen power? The fuel supply chain is hopeless.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Luxurious

    Hmm but we have an energy shortage remember?

    What's going to happen when everyone starts buying electric cars...

    Mines the one with the solar powered torch in the pocket.

  16. Nick

    @JonB - only 22 kW

    I think they meant that's not much - for a car. It's only about 30bhp, which is puny for a conventional car (unless it's 40 years old - my old 1971 Hillman Imp had 39!)

    Most production Morgans at the moment have between 190 and 333 bhp, so that's whay it seems to be "Only 22kW"

  17. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Double Whammy

    Sheer genius. Think of all that Carbon locked up in the wood and leather.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't really care

    Can we have a 'I don't believe it' image....Victor Meldrew maybe ? because I don't believe there's a problem with the climate anyhow. Read todays 'STOP' page. This car is just fun for rich people, and good luck too !

  19. A
    Thumb Up

    Two cars

    Actually he's right about the two cars. Most people only need a heavy hitter a few days/weeks a year, but they buy one and use it all the time because of that requirement.

    The better (and probably cheaper) solution for many in that situation is to use something economical day-to-day, and then rent a heavy hitter if/when required. It'll work out cheaper (and better for the environment) due to the savings on fuel, and a week or two rental cost would probably still be lower than the annual insurance premium on the heavy hitter even more when you include road tax etc.

    Something like a Prius does very well in an (sub)urban situation, where you're running heavily start/stop, but on long steady journeys it loses due to having to lug all the extra hybrid kit around. For that workload a long geared turbo-diesel would be a better car. Horses for courses, buy what suits your driving pattern best.

    As the for the Moggie; I like it. Wouldn't buy it, but then I'm not their target market anyway.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have a slight problem with this. One part of the green lobby continually entreat us to save water, while another part of the green lobby want us to use water to make fuel.

    Sure if you keep your exhaust water you can produce more fuel so reducing the waste, but carrying around all that water would surely go against the Morgan's Chapmanesque "Simplify and add lightness" credo.

    Produce the exhaust as water vapour they won't have the weight penalty, but they will be wasting the water and pumping a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Water vapour may not hang around in the atmospher as long as CO2, but it is still greenhouse gas and in leaving the atmosphere it will probably fall as rain.

    So maybe Morgan and as green as they would leave us to believe.

    I think the whole model of replacing internal combustion with hydrogen fuel cells needs a lot more modelling, from the production of hydrogen (and the powering thereof) right through to the disposal of the exhaust.

    Oh and I don't see Morgan being able to get enough performance using a fuel cell and capacitors 30bhp. How would they get the capacitors to store enough ennergy for a long run at reasonable speeds? 30bhp might just get the car up to a 70mph cruise, but how long would those capacitors last when dragging the car up a long incline.

    The whole thing smacks of a publicity stunt to appease the green lobby. Morgan would hardly be popular with greenies bring a performance car manufacturer using leather and wood in their cars' construction.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >Its difficult to make the case against that except for the ridiculous Tax and Insurance system that expects you to pay for things you don't use...

    That could be solved by the pay as you drive schemes some insurers are trialling. Haven't heard much about it lately so not sure if they've ditched the idea.

  22. Steve Evans

    Two cars...

    I agree many people use a car that is far bigger than they require 99% of the time, but why stop at saying you should have different cars for different jobs... How about pushing it a bit to different vehicles... I came to work today on my motorbike, and although it's quite capable of leaving pretty much any car at the lights, it's going to go a hell of a lot further on it's little sips of fuel than any 4 wheeler. Damn sight easier to park too!

  23. Steve Evans


    Pssst, Jon, we don't have 240v mains electricity in the UK anymore...

    They sneaked it down to put us in line with Europe...

    Now the specified mains voltage is 230V +10%, -6%

    Like any modern device really cares as long as it's got above 100v and less than 300v!

    Although I do begrudge my kettle taking 5% longer to make my cuppa Grrrr! Bl**dy Europe!

  24. Daniel


    You've made the common mistake of ignoring scale. The amount of water needed to produce hydrogen for your car is a tiny fraction of what is wasted in the typical household. What's more, cracking salt water is more efficient than tap water, so large scale hydrogen facilities on the coasts could use lightly purified sea water.

    Btw, I think the obsession with saving water in all cases is misguided anyway - I live in an area that has absolutely no water shortage, and once the obvious water wasters (leaky toilets, etc.) are taken care off, the ROI for water savings just isn't there. However, water PURITY is a big deal - our water supply can be easily contaminated by things such as home car washes (one of the nastiest combination of junk to go down our storm sewers), careless dumping, or mass flushing of unwanted prescriptions down the toilet.

  25. Martin

    @ Andrew, petrol as a byproduct

    I do VERY seriously doubt that.

    For example, I use upwards of 45l (10 gallons) of petrol every week, my workplace uses hundreds of gallons of diesel. How much plastic do we go through in a week? Not much.

    The old 'road fuel isn't profitable' thing is a nonsense- the oilcos sell the fuel to themselves (ie the refining arm sells to the retail arm) at a huge markup, and then the retail arm (the petrol stations) sells the fuel at a very small profit or even a loss. This way they can claim "we don't make money on petrol" and also keep smaller players out of the business, as it is VERY difficult for an unfavoured small fuel retailer to make a profit. When was the last time you saw an independent garage?

    All told of course most of the price of fuel is still tax, with fuel at 113.9p/L coming out at 46.6p/L without VAT or duty.

  26. The Prevaricator

    Hydrogen can pay its own way...

    Thank goodness some people are at least trying to make it work. I like the thought of a fuel that can be made anywhere with a source of electricity and water. Goodbye petrol tankers and the like.

    Mine's the one with the detonation-proof lining. A bit of exploding gas never hurt anyone.

  27. Gareth Jones Silver badge

    @Chris W

    Except that it probably wouldn't. The pay as you drive schemes I've seen still require a premium per vehicle, after all they still have to cover each car for fire, theft, etc. which could still occur whether the vehicle is in use or not.

    And of course there's the taxation issue. Not forgetting that there are those in Whitehall who want us to pay for SORN, so you'd still have to pay tax for a car that's off the road for 50 weeks of the year. And most manufacturers expect you to get the car serviced every year even if it's only done 100 miles, you do want to keep your warranty don't you?

    And don't get the greenies started on the whole subject of the environmental damage caused by manufacturing a car. Some reckon the manufacturing process does more damage to the environment than running the car for five years, but I don't think anybody's ever worked it out properly.

  28. Graham Lockley

    I dont care

    It may be old news, it may have a dubious power unit, it may not be the answer to energy/pollution problems... I dont care. I STILL WANT ONE coz it looks damned good :)

  29. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    But then again

    But then again , it is an interesting marque as a car for the waiting list to buy a used second hand one in any condition from a total wreck upwards is almost as long as the one to buy it brand new from the factory !

    Sadly , I prefer to own the much more identifiable old classic three wheeler , as it is truly in a class of it's own as it is very nice fit when carrying a passenger of the other gender and has the ability to turn more heads as you putter down the road then any top of the line super duper ultra fast name brand 250Kph plus open road going touring car from Ferrari down to the oriental Honda expensive to maintain dispose a car variety !

    As they say , who who needs Porsche or a Ferrari when cruising around town , if you own one of those little unique babies and has more pull then PH !

  30. Mark C
    Thumb Up

    @ Graham Lockley

    Abso-bloody-lutely .... nail on head there, sir.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >most of the price of fuel is still tax

    This is true of course, however without the tax the price would be the same, since the price of a commodity will rise to match the supply/demand curves.

    To ensure a more stable price, tax should actually be increased with more effort spent on storage.

  32. Trygve Henriksen

    Full Hydrogen or electrics is not the way to go.

    Same for the 'hybrids' like Prius...

    The way forward at the moment is 'Extended Range Electrics'.

    That is, electric cars which recharge through the grid overnight, and have a small secondary power source (gasoline/diesel or even hydrogen if you can get it compact and light enough) to PARTIALLY recharge the battery during travel.


    (Numbers pulledo ut of the air, mostly)

    The car can go 80miles on a recharge and if travelling at 40mph, it can travel for up to 2Hours until the battery runs dry.

    Say the electric motor(s) pull 10KW on average...

    (Not considering bouts of accelleration, or periods of regen braking)

    You then have a 20KWH battery package.

    You ALSO stick in a 5KW generator.

    Assuming you drive normally for the entire trip, that generator will during those two hours generate 10KWH, enough for another hour's driving, and your range is suddenly 120miles... At the end of which you have another 5KWH, thanks to the generator... 140miles...

    (Not bothering to work on smaller fractions)

    That assumes, of course, that you don't stop anywhere, as the generator can run even when you have a pit-stop or a good meal.

    If you don't need to drive that far, you may disable the generator and drive off of what's in the batteries, or just delay the start of the generator for a while.

    At NO POINT is the car being driven by the generator alone. That way it can be made much smaller than what is used in cars today.

    Cars also need to be made much lighter than they are today.

    EX Electrics solve some of these problems as unlike the hybrids, they don't need to have conventional driveshafts/gearboxes and the engine is much smaller. (they can use 2/3/4 smaller electric motors mounted in the hubs to move the car, which also throws away the differential, which is not only heavy, but also a energy-loss)

  33. Syd

    Motorbikes are NOT fuel-efficient

    I don't know what you ride, but a CG125 (one of the MOST efficient "real" bikes on the road) has an official mpg of around 100, which is just barely twice the mpg of a small car, even though the car weighs 5x as much! (And has a roof... and is a far safer place to be if some other idiot decides to get a bit of shut-eye as he approaches the roundabout behind you!) Most bigger bikes have an mpg which is pretty-much indistinguishable from a small car.

    There are lots of great reasons for riding a bike, but "saving fuel" really isn't one of them.

  34. Frank Bough

    "Pay as you drive" Insurance

    "That could be solved by the pay as you drive schemes some insurers are trialling. Haven't heard much about it lately so not sure if they've ditched the idea."

    How on earth can you be asked to pay for INSURANCE retrospectively? I don't need to pay for last month's insurance if wasn't required to make a claim, do I? I only need insure against FUTURE events that I cannot forsee.

    Isn't this obvious to everyone?

  35. Gianni Straniero

    Two jags

    "everyone should have more than one car anyway, for different kinds of driving."

    What a dolt. At most you need one car, and if you live and work in the same city, none. Get a pushbike. Then hire as many different cars as you require for all your "different kinds of driving", e.g. a dirty great van when you move house, a horrible-looking Vauxhall when you need to visit the in-laws on the other side of the country, and a bright-orange Lambo to compensate for your erectile disfunction.

  36. Mister Cheese

    Water shortage?

    We best start melting the ice-caps sharpish then to unlock all that energy, before the sea runs dry.

    I like the way the septics manage to take a green fuel (excluding solar-cell manufacture, maintenance and delivery) and convert into another abuser of natural gas... very impressive. Specially since you need additional energy to boil the water first, before you can react it with the methane...!

  37. Jonathon Green

    Sustained performance potential?

    As I understand it this thing uses a supercap to match the (more or less constant) low-ish output from a fuel cell to the varying demands of the driver and provide peak outputs in excess of what the fuel cell can deliver. So far so good. How well this will work in practice will hinge on what sort of "duty cycle" the supercap can support. If this thing's envisaged as a sports car (given Morgan's heritage and that it's a small 2-seater it's difficult to see it as anything else) it's going to be competing against the likes of the Lotus Elise/Exige, Caterhams (and sundry other seven-a-likes like Westfields), and Morgan's own more traditional products. If after 10 minutes of "spirited" cross country motoring (or a couple of laps into a 15 minute trackday session) the supercap's drained flat and you're restricted to the performance the fuel cell can support unaided it's just not going to hack it...

    Anybody know what Morgan's claims are for the *sustained* performance which can be delivered as against trundling up a hill or the odd overtake now and again?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hydrogen power plant at home. My whatever would the local terrorist cells do with that one?

  39. Robert Hill

    @Frank Bough

    "How on earth can you be asked to pay for INSURANCE retrospectively? I don't need to pay for last month's insurance if wasn't required to make a claim, do I? I only need insure against FUTURE events that I cannot forsee."

    It's simple - people with pay as you go insurance agree to have a GPS transponder fitted in each vehicle they own, which reports how much you have driven each car and then the company bills you for it. In effect, the company bills you after the fact, based upon how much you have used a car. A very simple concept really, and one that makes owning multiple cars, or seldom used cars, much more realistic. I have seen the GPS devices for this listed in private eye type shops for only a few hundred quid, so I presume they would be very cheap purchased in bulk directly from the manufacturer.

    Now of course, with that GPS device fitted, your insurance company COULD also see how often you speed...and the types of driving you do...and where you travel...etc....

    But I for one would love such a scheme so that I could own let's say a nice diesel commuting car to get to work, and maybe a second-hand Lotus Elise that I might use a few days a month for track days or country jaunts...

  40. David Hicklin Bronze badge

    Re: Full Hydrogen or electrics is not the way to go.

    This was on Tomorrow's World some 20 years ago - Car had a small generator in the boot (lawnmower maybe? the memory is foggy now) which provided the 'steady running' speed with batteries providing the boost for acceleration.

  41. Martin

    @ JonB

    errr, no. If you were right then the USA would be paying £1.139/L for fuel as well despite their lack of any substantial fuel tax, but they're paying about 50p/L, the same as our tax-free price. In a competitive market prices stabilise at a point that gives a 'reasonable' profit compared with other industries. Any absurdly profitable industry receives an incoming flood of investment and new players, prices fall due to all the new competition until such a point as there is no 'unusual' level of profit to attract them.

    Anyway, people don't care how 'stable' the price of something is, they care far more about how much it actually costs. The fact that in percentage terms American fuel has risen by far more than it has here is little comfort considering that in cash terms the price of a litre/gallon/mile has risen more here (thanks VAT) and was much more expensive here to begin with (68.9p/L during the 2002 oil price slump IIRC)

  42. Frank Bough

    @Robert Hill

    No, it's not simple at all. You don not need insurance for past events, it's as simple as that. It simply does not matter if you drove through the most crime ridden areas at the worst times of day SO LONG AS NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENED THAT REQUIRED A CLAIM. How can an insurance company charge you a premium to cover losses that CAN NEVER OCCUR? What are you paying for?

    No kidding the insurance companies will try and sell this as some kind of way forward, but it negates the whole basis of the insurance industry - ie risk assessment. It's such an extraordinary idea that I can't even think of a suitable analogy.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Robert Hill

    Indeed you don't need insurance for past events but if you fail on a single bill then your insurance will no doubt be withdrawn. Hence the risk for the insurance company is in the first month. If as a driver you get past the first month and decide, as you seem to think people will, not to pay because nothing has happened, you will find that if something does happen in the second month you've made a rather expensive saving and aren't as clever as you thought. Not you personally you understand but you in general.

    Alternatively there could be a sort of prepaid float.

  44. Trygve Henriksen

    @David Hicklin

    But in the 'EX Electrics' the small motor DOESN'T provide the 'steady running' at all. In fact it's not powerful enough, or even connected to the wheels in any way.

    ALL drive power is by electric motors which draws power from the batteries. The gas/diesel/whatever engine is there just to top up the batteries on longer trips. On shorter trips it may not be used at all.

    As for Supercaps in the Morgan, as I understand it, the caps are being continually recharged whenever there's spare capacity in the system.

    (The closest anlogue would be the big caps in a PSU, just after the rectifier.)

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Ooooooooh Shiny!

    Never knew saving the world / seals / polar bears could be so sexy. You get yourself a windmill and a water wheel or something reliable for the UK, get yourself some water from the river like on Grand Designs, filter it, make your own hydrogen, cant be that hard. Face it if you can buy one these you already have the land and cash to spare. Rock on!

    This whole eco thing is following the traditional early adopter curve, rich and or poor but committed types will get the gear first, bear the brunt of the costs and then a few gens down the line were all playing.

    Like any new tech with a potential market, it'll follow the adoption curve. Ill buy some shares, they are cheap atm you know.

  46. Alan Fisher

    It's times like this....

    I think, as has been mentioned previously, any firm who tries at least to innovate in this field should be lauded and supported.....we NEED people to innovate in alternative fuels and means of producing power before we get to the point where they HAVE to and the world thusly goes to pot.....I ride a bike, 20 miles a day to and from work, I have a rather cool mini wind turbine mounted on it to charge my small electricals (it's on firebox) and often use my travel solar charger (here in Ireland the wind can be counted on when the sun cannot)....I'm trying to carbon nuetralise my house but cost constraints hold me back there...imagine a car which produces enough spare to pipe some of it back into your house....if these hydrogen station things could be used to power at least part of the house.....

    I'm all for anything which isn't fossil fuel based and, whether this concept is good or workable or not, it's pushing competition between the car manufacturers and that can only be good in the long run!

    p.s the Mog does have a certain Batman-esque sexiness about it don't you think?

  47. Alan Fisher

    The Water Cycle

    Surely any water vapour expelled by hydrogen will simply enter the good old water cycle we all learned about at school, thus replenishing the seas and greening the hills?

    Maybe it might futz with the weather but, to be honest, I'm not enough of an expert to speculate on that

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