Hydrogen Hybrid Supercar Revealed in Las Vegas

Texas-based Ronn Motor Company rolled out its hydrogen hybrid supercar Tuesday at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show (SEMA) in Las Vegas. The Scorpion is a wildly sculpted exotic vehicle that can hit 200 miles per hour, while promising 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

“We have a system that produces hydrogen as we drive down the road.”

Ronn Maxwell
chief executive officer of Ronn Motor Company

The Scorpion is powered by a hydrogen-assisted Acura 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a close ratio six-speed transmission. This engine produces 289 horsepower in stock form, and can be upgraded to 450 horses with an optional twin turbo. But unlike most hydrogen systems in development, this one does not utilize fuel cells—and the Scorpion does not have electric motors. Instead, the car’s newly developed technology burns a blend of hydrogen and gasoline. Adding hydrogen to the internal combustion engine reportedly improves fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent.

The on-board hydrogen system developed by Hydrorunner uses dual computer processors to produce hydrogen from water contained in a small tank. Essentially, it is a process similar to electrolysis, in which water is charged with electricity in order to release hydrogen molecules. Hydrogen is then injected into the powertrain as needed. This eliminates the need for high-pressure storage tanks, or for that matter, hydrogen-fueling stations.

Scorpion Hydrogen Hybrid Supercar
Scorpion Hydrogen Hybrid Supercar

“Our system uses water from your garden hose to create hydrogen on demand,” said company COO Damon Kuhn. “The infrastructure to support this technology is here right now, not 10 years from now.”

The potential for this technology to reach the mass market is limited—because of cost. The price of the Scorpion will be in the range of $150,00 to $250,000. The company is taking pre-orders now. But act fast—production numbers for the Scorpion will be limited to approximately 200 per year.

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  • jvoelcker

    Worth noting, first, that this is not a “hybrid” car as we know them, i.e. its powertrain uses two mechanical torque from two different sources of motive power (combustion engine & electric motor).

    Instead, this is a hybrid-FUEL car. It has just one combustion engine, no electric motor(s).

    The energy balance here is very confusing. Where does the electricity to crack the water into hydrogen come from? I presume it’s generated by the engine through a generator. But the increase in engine power from injecting hydrogen into the fuel stream must presumably be less than the energy sapped away from the engine output that turns the generator to create the hydrogen (otherwise it’d be perpetual motion).

    This is essentially hydrogen-injection (a la nitrous injection), but using internally generated hydrogen. I don’t consider it a “hybrid”.

  • jvoelcker

    One more comment:

    “Our system uses water from your garden hose to create hydrogen on demand,” said company COO Damon Kuhn. “The infrastructure to support this technology is here right now, not 10 years from now.”

    This quote is either deceptive or ignorant. The *water* isn’t creating hydrogen. It’s the feedstock into which a LARGE amount of electricity must be fed to crack the molecular bonds between the H and O atoms. And as noted above, that energy is greater than the increase in combustion energy once the hydrogen is burned.

  • CK

    Could it be that the energy used to create the hydrogen is made by a generator during regenative breaking? This would be similar to how a “conventional” hybrid works. “Lost” energy is generated during breaking and stored in the battery. In this case instead of storing this energy in a battery is is storing it as hydrogen?

    Just a thought. Then again who cares how it actually works. If it is true that you can actually get 40mpg out of a car like this..does it really matter?

  • jvoelcker

    @CK: Ah, hmmm, hadn’t thought about regen … though you need quite a lot of energy to make hydrogen.

    But I suppose if they limited it solely to regen to recapture energy, then you’re not imposing a parasitic load on the engine so you do have a net efficiency gain.

    HOWEVER … all the hybrid engineers I’ve spoken with say making regen work smoothly and give proper braking feel is very, very hard. Does Ronn have that ability? It’s not like the control software is something you just buy off the shelf … so I’m still skeptical.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Now, does it really work?
    This sounds a lot like what hybridman2 has been espousing in the forum at http://www.hybridcars.com/forums/water-hybrids-work.html
    Hopefully, someone will do some real testing of this system and prove whether it works or is just a snakeoil scheme.
    Not knowing the specs for this, however, it is clearly a poor economy performer when compared with a production Tesla Roadster (well over 100 MPG effectively) or a T-zero or Wrightspeed X1 although the top speed is defiinitely higher. What kind of 0-60 times can this get or what 1/4 mile times?
    Any followup by Hybridcars.com will be much appreciated.

  • Shines

    Wow a 2 seater that gets 40 MPG on the highway and only costs $200 grand. Nice looking though…
    So how heavy/light is this vehicle?
    How quickly does it get to 200mph?
    What is its MPG when its going 200 mph?
    I’m skeptical

  • Jo Borras

    I like the RENNtech hybrid rally concept a bit better. Granted, I’m biased, but I think it better reflects the idea of a gas/electric hybrid (well, “sugar-ethanol”/electric hybrid, anyway!).


  • Al

    [Adding hydrogen to the internal combustion engine reportedly improves fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent.]

    The trick is not to use hydrogen for energy recuperation, it is used for burning the fuel much more cleanly. It is a well known fact that in the cylinder the fuel does not burn evenly and completely in all of the parts of the cylinder, some of it still is burned when the effective work is done. Hydrogen is a catalyst which allows a more complete, even and quicker burning of the fuel mixture, thus more energy of the petrol is released at the moment when it can do most of the work.

  • Samie

    I agree a follow-up on this article would be appreciated. I’m still not sure how you make hydrogen from a garden hose. Are we still having trouble with storage and how hydrogen is usually produced ie form oil production? Oil production part scares me and I wonder if we can get past that annoying little problem. That is why I am skeptical but again I need to do some research to cut to the truth. On a funny note 200mph wow not sure if you really need that much speed but man I would rack up so many speeding tickets I probably would have to sell the car.

  • mdensch

    I think we need to know more about where the energy to create the hydrogen comes from. It sounds like they basically use electrolysis which is easy and effective, but, as has been noted, consumes a LOT of electricity. That electricity doesn’t come free, so how is it being generated and are they factoring that energy consumption into the MPG figure?


    I am all for EV’s, however, there are serious down sides to them too, the main one is not driving distance is environmental. The number of batteries that those cars would be discarded could gianormous unless organic, biodegradable and compostable, 100% recyclable and/or reusable materials are used in future automobile batteries.
    Green automobiles should be build completely recyclable. we have the technology and the will as individuals to support an environmentally sound society, the US car industry should spearhead the industrial renaissance of the 21th century, green, reliable, and 100% recyclable. How about if we were paid a handsome sum recycling, our motor vehicles will retain a higher value as is the case of buying silver, platinum, copper, plastics, paper products, wood, aluminum, etc.
    Think of it as investing in your retirement portfolio a chunk of raw materials, as they continue to be used the value should continue to climb.
    Many of us still remember when Toyota, Ford, and GM were producing EV’s in California,
    A modified GM EV1 prototype set a land speed record for production electric vehicles of 183 mph (295 km/h) in 1994. and 75 to 150 miles (120 to 240 km) per charge with Gen 2 Ovonic nickel-metal hydride batteries. Recharging took as much as eight hours for a full charge (although one could get an 80% charge in two to three hours).
    General Motors used many advanced technologies in developing the EV1. These included:

    * Aluminum frame
    * Dent resistant side panels
    * Anti-lock brakes
    * Traction control
    * Heat pump (Heater/AC)
    * Keyless entry and keyless ignition
    * Special one-way thermal glass to allow for better heat rejection
    * Regenerative braking
    * Very low drag coefficient – Cd~0.19, CdA~0.36 m² (3.95 ft²)
    * Super light magnesium alloy wheels
    * Self-sealing & low rolling resistance tires (developed by Michelin)
    * Automated tire pressure loss warning system
    * Magnesium framed seats
    * Time programmable HVAC (cabin heating or cooling) settings

    Most of these technologies were included to improve the overall efficiency of the EV1.

  • Oskar Austegard

    John V and Al are right – it is a fuel additive/catalyst, not a hybrid drive train – Ronn Motor Company is guilty of fanning the “runs on water” and “hydrogen hybrid” flames which makes gullible members of the press and the blogosphere drool. The first and second law of thermodynamics still stand.

    Also note that the pertinent technology is licensed from Hydro Runner (http://www.hydrorunner.com/). Their claim is:

    “The benefits to the introduction of Hydrogen gas in a controlled way cause less viscosity breakdown, which in turn means extended engine life. Another added benefit is less frequent oil changes. See test data for Amsoil. There is also a significant increase of 10% in horsepower and 8% increase in torque as tested on the Forerunner. See test results A. We also are seeing a dramatic reduction of harmful greenhouse gases up to 90%.”

    That said – the Scorpion is still a nice vehicle design…

  • Al

    They are not the first in this field, see:

    “Our hydrogen generator uses electrolysis to break apart water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules to form Brown’s gas. Hydrogen can be injected into diesel engines and used as an additive to assist in combustion efficiency which provides a more complete and earlier burn which drives more power on the downward stroke. This increases horse power and torque, dramatically reduces greenhouse emissions and at the same time increases fuel economy.”

  • ex-EV1 driver

    UC Davis,
    You’re in luck! Modern NiMH and Li-ion batteries are nearly 90% recyclable and non-toxic. Your ecology concerns are likely based upon older lead-acid or Nickle Cadmium in which the lead and the Cadmium were highly toxic. Even they, however, are very recyclable. Well over 95% of the starter batteries in today’s ICE cars are recycled.
    Recycling of batteries is far preferable to composting them because recycling enables the raw materials to be re-used, not consumed, thus making their supply sustainable and less impactful on the environment.

  • Samie

    Oskar Austegard said:
    John V and Al are right – it is a fuel additive/catalyst, not a hybrid drive train – Ronn Motor Company is guilty of fanning the “runs on water” and “hydrogen hybrid” flames which makes gullible members of the press and the blogosphere drool. The first and second law of thermodynamics still stand.

    If that’s the case they are only telling half truths about being green, that is to the delight of the big oil companies. But someday I hope the hydrogen people are not as deceptive as some seem today, If we can only find ways of storage and capture hydrogen on massive scale that has nothing to do with oil extraction then we got something really exciting!

  • tony

    Call it what you want. The basic idea sounds terrific. A supplemental fuel source onboard. From what little research I’ve done, it doesn’t take much. With a couple of Ball canning jars, reastats, tubbing, some wire, drain cleaner, eletrods or plates, 15 amps of power and a couple of hours in the garage a supplemental system can be added to an auto. Most of the research was done on Youtube. Not much of a credible source, but if these lay people can do it surely Gm or Ford could perfect the system.

  • Anonymous


  • Tony

    My guess would be that the boost in efficiency does not come from the energy released by burning the H2. I’ve read elsewhere that you can get more energy out of gasoline by burning it in the presence of H2 than you can get by burning it alone, although I’m not sure about the details. Perhaps the burning of the H2 is able to increase the temperature in the combustion chamber allowing the primary fuel to be burned more completely.

    Also, if as someone else suggested at least some of the electricity for extracting the H2 from water comes from otherwise waste sources, such as recapturing the energy lost to braking, that could also contribute to the overall efficiency gains.

  • Tony

    “Our system uses water from your garden hose to create hydrogen on demand,” said company COO Damon Kuhn. “The infrastructure to support this technology is here right now, not 10 years from now.”

    “This quote is either deceptive or ignorant. The *water* isn’t creating hydrogen.”

    I don’t think the quote is either deceptive or ignorant, I think you may have just misread it. It doesn’t say that the water creates hydrogen — it says that the SYSTEM creates hydrogen USING water. Oversimplified? Yes, because the system obviously uses more than just water to create the hydrogen. But I think it’s pretty clearly accurate.

  • Bob491

    Al is right on in his thinking of flame travel and a better burn.
    The other thing that seems to have been missed is, at highway speeds and a fully charged battery, a quite a bit of electrical power is avalible at little or no cost. In a cold climete with alll accesories running or stuck in traffic, of course would be another story.

  • Bob491

    Tony lets not be so picky, how about avallible on demand.
    Give the guy a break, I haven’t seem an advertisment in ten years
    that came anywhere close to the literal truth. Not just you Tony
    but all of those that picked on that same point.

  • jdubb

    I have to say it has been very interesting reading everyone’s comments. The greatest thing is that the Hydrorunner G3 system does work! It won’t be long until you start hearing more about it.

  • Anonymous

    they probably killed someone to get the blue prints for this car… stanley meyers was killed by food poisoning (he had a hydrogen car in the 1990s)… denny klein and his patents had disappeared after he had sold them to GM…..

  • Turk823

    Hence the term ‘HYBRID.’ See also Websters dictionary.

  • James123

    I really like the look of this car. Imagine pulling up to the strip in this thing! Very nice! Thanks for sharing this info.!,
    Las Vegas Garage Doors

  • Darrin

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