Riding Shotgun In the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen Car – Part 1

I recently had a chance to ride along in a Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE at Eco-Products 2008 in Japan — a green event held for three days in Tokyo.

Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE and Mercedes-Benz Smart at Eco-Products 2008

Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE and Mercedes-Benz Smart on road.


Several green vehicles were on hand at the event for visitors to take on approximately 10 minute rides. The cars you could pick from were: the Toyota FCHV-adv (fuel cell), the Nissan Clean Diesel X-TRAIL 20GT, the Subaru Plug-in Stella Concept (EV), the Audi Cabriolet A4 S-line 3.0 TDI (Diesel), the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE, the Mitsubishi i MiEV (EV), the Mercedes-Benz Smart, and the Velotaxi.

I chose the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE because I thought sitting in that type of car must be a very rare opportunity. I also wanted an up close real-world experience with a car that uses a rotary engine and can switch back and forth between gasoline and hydrogen fuel.

An employee from Mazda drove the RX-8 and, while he drove, he explained more about the car. Unfortunately, I had to sit on the passenger’s side, so I can’t tell you about the actual “zoom zoom” performance such as handling and acceleration from a driver’s perspective. Nonetheless, I got a good taste for what the car feels like.

My driver explained that RX-8 Hydrogen RE is basically identical to a regular RX-8, except it has a little more weight from the hydrogen fueling system. In light of this, the car’s performance and ride quality is essentially identical to the regular RX-8. I found that RX-8 gave you very comfortable ride even though it’s a sports car. The RX-8 Hydrogen RE has less maximum power in the hydrogen mode compared to the gas mode. Even so, it should perform just as well for most city driving as a regular RX-8 does.

I’ll write about how this hydrogen rotary engine switches between gasoline and hydrogen fuel in the real world and some more interesting findings in another post soon. So, stay tuned to Gas 2.0 for more.

Other Related Posts:

Find more general info on Eco-Product 2008:

Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE and Mercedes-Benz Smart at Eco-Products 2008

Lists of the green vehicles offered for ride-alongs at Eco-Products 2008

Velotaxi at Eco-Products 2008

Very Unique Velotaxi

Image Credits: All pictures are taken by Tetsuya Yokoyama

Tetsuya Yokoyama

Originally from Kanazawa, Japan, Tetsuya graduated with honors and distinction in major from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies, and also completed a Global Operations Management certification program at the University of California, Irvine. He loves biking and playing soccer, and very interested in all kinds of green products and services. He used to drive his beloved hybrid car, Honda Insight in Southern California. Tetsuya currently writes about green matters from Tokyo, Japan. He hopes to make our planet a little more human and environmentally friendly place by spreading and sharing green stories.