Hydrogen fuel cell cars aren’t typically known for their speed, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring.
Students at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have been tuning hydrogen powertrains for performance for almost a decade, starting with the debut of the Forze I electric vehicle in 2008.
Since then, Team Delft has developed several prototypes, many of which have competed in the Formula Zero hydrogen fuel cell racing series.
Formula Zero unfortunately ran out of steam years ago, but the Delft team is still going strong. Its latest creation, Forze VI, is a sleek, shapely racecar, one that makes 255 peak horsepower and can sprint to 60 mph in less than 4.0 seconds.
To showcase the potential of hydrogen, the Forze VI recently made a trip to Germany for a jaunt around the famed Nurburging. Even though the 1,984-pound car was only running at about half power, it traversed the course in under 11 minutes.
To be clear, that is not a fast time by normal standards. German racing driver and occasional Top Gear guest Sabine Schmitz managed a 10:02 lap in a 136-horsepower Ford Transit van. It’s not an official record either, as it wasn’t professionally timed due to it being a public track day with other cars on the course.
Still, the Forze VI is far and away the fastest hydrogen-powered vehicle to lap the ‘Ring, it’s a great way to increase public interest, and there’s clearly room for improvement with full power. It certainly left an impression on former Formula 1 driver Jan Lammers, who happened to be piloting the Forze VI on track day.
“It is truly awe-inspiring how the students have designed and built a race car that also handles so well, even more so considering the highly advanced technology it contains,” he said. “I tip my hat to them.”