The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has always led the way, testing and developing technologies on the racetrack before they are applied to road-going vehicles. Its latest focus is hydrogen, which will be promoted in a special class to be introduced in 2024. A world first.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest and its flagship event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, have always encouraged research and the development of new technologies that improve safety and comfort, boost performance and reduce fuel consumption for cleaner and greener motorsport and mobility. Together with the FIA, it is now reflecting on decarbonisation, in other words how to achieve zero emissions with race cars.
After diesel then hybrid technology, the hydrogen fuel cell is the ACO’s next target, with the introduction of a special class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2024. A working group is already in place and includes various parties with an interest in the subject. Seven automotive multinationals (major manufacturers and parts makers) actively developing this technology are involved in setting down the conditions required for the creation of this class, and in demonstrating the relevance and efficiency of this new engine technology. The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is supporting the ACO endeavour.
Jean Todt, President of the FIA: “Over the decades the laboratory that motor sport provides has driven forward the development of technology and safety that has a direct benefit to all of us. The FIA has been at the forefront of this development, and the inclusion of a class for hydrogen technology in the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2024 is the next, important, step on the road to a cleaner and sustainable future.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “We continue to drive automotive research and defend our beliefs. Hydrogen is the future of zero-emission mobility. This is not just a statement of intent: we have already set up a panel of experts and are working hand-in-hand with manufacturers. We are focused on practical research so that we are ready for 2024 and the introduction of a hydrogen class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Richard Mille, President of the FIA Endurance Commission: “The 24 Hours of Le Mans and endurance racing have always provided a place for manufacturers to test and develop new technology. The decision to include a class for hydrogen powered cars from 2024 is the perfect fit with the philosophy of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. This reflects the importance of this for the automotive industry as it seeks to develop renewable energy to replace the combustion engine as the primary power source for road vehicles.”
Photo: Hydrogen powered cars in the near future at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.