The ‘Automobile Club de l’Ouest’ (ACO*) had the opportunity to express its vision of hydrogen, through an intervention by Pierre Fillon, its president, when presenting the festivities linked to the Centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The centenary edition, which will take place on 10 and 11 June 2023, will be an opportunity to pay tribute to innovation – this competition has always been a terrific technological laboratory for manufacturers – and to write a new page of history. While the Hypercars will be competing on track in 2023 with the most prestigious names in the automotive world, the future Hydrogen category, which will guarantee zero emission competition, is on the horizon for 2025.
Since 2018, the Automobile Club of the West, in collaboration with GreenGT, has presented MissionH24, a programme aimed at creating a category dedicated to Hydrogen prototypes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, capable of competing for overall victory, without emitting any CO2 emissions. The creation of H24Racing, MissionH24’s competition entity, has been accompanied since 2022 by the entry of the H24 electric-hydrogen prototype in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and therefore in Road to Le Mans. At this level of international competition, it is a world first. The H24 raced in the middle of machines with conventional combustion engines. It refuelled at its own H2 station, created by TotalEnergies, and set a speed record in the Hunaudières, exceeding 290 km/h, while emitting only water vapour.
In parallel to this competition programme, supported by TotalEnergies, Michelin, Symbio, Plastic Omnium, Richard Mille, Essilor and Dietsmann, the Automobile Club of the West, via ACO H2, its Hydrogen business unit, is contributing to the deployment of hydrogen as a vector for more global mobility. The ACO has thus created an H2 filling station opposite its headquarters, at the airfield, which supplies a city bus line, as well as a few refuse collection lorries. In a near future it will also be available for corporate fleets and then private individuals.
At the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours, the ACO intends to share its H2 strategy with spectators, to demonstrate the multi-purpose nature of this technology, which can be used for heavy transport, trucks, ships, trains and aircraft, in addition to production vehicles. In addition to mobility, there is the stationary potential of hydrogen to power infrastructures. The Sarthe-based club hopes to offer the public various activities such as trips in hydrogen vehicles, educational and entertaining content, particularly for the younger generation, as well as reception areas powered by this energy vector.
ACO : Automobile Club de l’Ouest (Automobile Club of the West in English)
Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King