Geneva, Switzerland – The International Advanced Mobility Forum (IAMF) was held for the first time at Geneva Palexpo during the Geneva International Automobile Show earlier in March. The forum took place in conjunction with the third European Ele-drive Transportation Conference (EET-2008), which is concerned with vehicles powered by electricity, hybrid solutions and fuel cells.

Among the topics covered:

Hybrid technology for Formula 1 in 2009: For the first time, Formula 1 race cars will be fitted with systems for recuperating energy from braking; converted to electricity, the energy will be reused during acceleration for a substantial increase in power. This new regulation will be a major breakthrough for hybrid propulsion technologies. “The media coverage which results from these new rules will raise the public awareness that the future use of hybrid technology has become inevitable,” said Max Mosley, President of the International Automobile Federation.

Lead to lithium batteries for hybrid automobiles: Hybrid automobiles from Toyota, Honda and Lexus now use hybrid batteries made with nickel, which in future will be replaced with lithium batteries. For now, some aspects of lithium technology are not satisfactory, including high cost, and safety concerns that the recharging system can develop excessive heat that is hard to control. The Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium has developed a lead battery with a life of 100,000 miles (160,934 km) being used in a Honda Insight in parallel with a super-condenser, with a cost that is substantially less than that of a nickel hybrid battery.

Plug-in vehicles: These vehicles, which are charged using public electricity networks and have a minimum range of 20 km between charges, will inevitably use lithium batteries, but participants at the Forum agreed that lithium batteries are not yet the final answer to this need. BYD has announced that its hybrid car can be driven for 100 km using only its electric mode; this car is supposed to be commercialized in China this year.

Fuel cells: The participants agreed that the time for fuel cell automobiles coming onto the market appears to be some distance away, and some scientists would like to postpone the inevitability of this technology until its disadvantages are better understood. Despite this, Honda will deliver its first FCX Clarity model next June to private customers in the U.S., and then in Japan.

Electric vehicles: During a conference in Geneva, two electric vehicles were announced: the Norwegian Think City, which will probably not achieve great success as there is no network for recharging it, and a Smart that is being developed to run on electricity. Pitt Moos, responsible for marketing at Smart, said the decision was justified by factors such as political pressure, recent battery technology progress, and rapid urban growth that requires short-distance travel.

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