The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, which serves as the organizational body for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is leading a charge to make hydrogen race cars a reality.
The ACO announced its new Mission H24 initiative at the ELMS Spa 4 Hours race over the weekend. Mission H24 represents the ACO’s commitment to “promoting and developing hydrogen-powered vehicles,” with the ultimate goal of racing a hydrogen-powered car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2024.
As part of the announcement, the ACO completed demonstration laps in an LMP3-based hydrogen test prototype that it calls the LMPH2G. The vehicle is a test-bed for a future hydrogen racecar, boasting a four-stack fuel cell and four electric motors that are good for a combined output of 653 hp and a top speed in excess of 186 mph (300 km/h). The ACO also demonstrated the refueling process for the vehicle at Spa, which is extremely similar to a refueling stop for a gasoline vehicle.
The test prototype was developed in partnership with Swiss company GreenGT, which specializes in high-performance hydrogen and electric vehicles. GreenGT is also working on putting a road-going hydrogen supercar on the road in the way of the Pininfarina designed H2 Speed, which was shown at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.
“We had no hesitation in joining the ACO on Mission H24,” said GreenGT CEO Jean-Michel Bouresche. “We have been convinced about the potential of hydrogen for several years now and have developed sound experience and recognised expertise in the field. Speeding up the research process via motorsport is a challenge that we are enthusiastically – but realistically – ready to accept.”
The ACO and GreenGT will continue to develop their hydrogen vehicle technology with the intent of having it ready to race at Le Mans in about five years. In that time, many hydrogen and pure electric supercars are expected to hit the road, including the aforementioned H2 Speed, the second-generation Tesla Roadster and the Rimac Concept_Two. Slowly but surely, electric and hydrogen powertrains are beginning to make more sense in race and performance applications.
A version of this story originally appeared on Hybrid Cars.