Economist Tony Twine believes that the South African motor industry must prepare for when the combustion engine is replaced by hydrogen-powered fuel cell propulsion.

Economist Tony Twine believes that the South African motor industry must prepare for when the combustion engine is replaced by hydrogen-powered fuel cell propulsion.

Twine told this week that while SA may have been a "technological laggard" on doing research and development on the combustion engine, it could become a mass producer when the switch was made to hydrogen power.

CARtoday.com reported recently that General Motors - the world’s biggest producer of vehicles - now devotes about half of its research and development to fuel cells and China and the European Union have announced government backing for similar projects.

Fuel cell-powered vehicles are expected to be produced en masse by the end of this decade. In addition, fuel-cell technology could in the long term become the dominant driver of the SA platinum industry, Anglo Platinum spokesman Mike Mtakati said.

Twine warned that South Africa would have to take a "technological quantum leap" to be able to do this. Vehicle manufacturers must try get their "hooks" into this technology as fast as possible and look at developing the manufacturing process for hydrogen-powered vehicles, the report said.

While the challenges were great, Twine said South Africa had competitive advantages with its abundance of platinum group metals needed by a hydrogen-powered vehicle.

Anglo Platinum recently invested R320 million to research applications of platinum in fuel cells. Platinum is currently used as an integral part of automotive catalytic converter exhaust systems on cars, and fuel-cell technology has developed sufficient momentum to make a range of governments and industries, particularly the platinum industry, start revising their plans, Mtakati was quoted as saying last month.

Original article from Car