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The Alpine Alpenglow Hy4 is a hydrogen-powered racing prototype

Revealed as a ‘rolling lab’ prototype, the hydrogen-powered Alpenglow Hy4 could hint at Alpine’s future race-bred models

Alpine has revealed the Alpenglow Hy4 ahead of its track debut at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, two years since we first saw the model in concept-form at the Paris Motor Show. Built to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen power in performance cars, this first rolling prototype leads the way for a second iteration set for a reveal later this year.

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As daunting carbon neutrality objectives loom over the industry, Alpine is making strides in developing performance cars powered by more sustainable fuels. While it’s preparing for the launch of seven new pure-electric models by 2030, starting in 2024 with the A290 hot hatch, hydrogen is not out of the question.

> FIA 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps 2024 – WEC round three host to diverse 37-car grid

Bruno Famin, vice president of Alpine, believes hydrogen has a future beyond the firm's track cars. Speaking about the potential for a hydrogen Alpine road car, he said: '...we are learning a lot about the technology, we are in the middle between road cars and racing cars and we may have in mind to go both ways,' adding '...we may consider something for sure in the future.'

Unlike the concept of 2022, the car you see here is a real, driveable machine, built around a Ligier LMP3 carbon monocoque and powered entirely by hydrogen. While most hydrogen cars opt for fuel cell technology in which the gas produces electricity to power electric motors, the Hy4 retains a traditional internal combustion engine, injecting hydrogen directly into an Oreca-derived 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder in place of conventional fuel. Alpine says this maintains an element of familiarity for both drivers and spectators, while reaping the inherent efficiency, emissions and cooling benefits of hydrogen power.

Alpenglow Hy4 is ready to hit the track for demonstration runs at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours, but this is far from its final form. The four-cylinder at its core is a development engine leading the way for an all-new V6, developed by Alpine specifically to run on hydrogen – this unit will make its debut in a second prototype set for reveal by the end of the year and is already undergoing dyno tests. 

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In its current form, the prototype is capable of a 7000rpm redline, a 168mph top speed and sends 340bhp through an Xtrac sequential transmission. Held in sealed compartments in the side pods and behind the cockpit are three 55 litre tanks, holding 2.1kg of gaseous hydrogen each at a staggering 700 bar. While driving, this pressure is brought down to 200 bar before the hydrogen is directly injected into the engine at 40 bar. Given the incredible pressures at play, Alpine has developed new composite cylinders, rapid evacuation valves and has incorporated hydrogen presence sensors and colour-coded alert systems for safety purposes.

While Alpine says power and torque are identical to a petrol-powered equivalent, range is considerably less, with all 165 litres of gaseous hydrogen said to provide just 62 miles of track running. The marque's future solution to this problem will be the use of liquid hydrogen, but it won't be an easy task to maintain to extreme low temperatures required to store it. 

The Alpenglow’s design stays true to the 2022 concept, taking inspiration from the modern A424 WEC Hypercar and A220 of the ‘60s while offering a glimpse at Alpine’s future design language. The Hy4 swaps the single-seat layout of the concept for an enlarged two-seat cabin though, with a widened track and modified crash box altering its proportions. Its aerodynamics package has also seen plenty of attention, with the front splitter and rear diffuser now more efficient than before and NACA ducts introduced to feed the oil and water radiators. The striking transparent rear wing of the concept remains.

Behind its dihedral doors are a pair of bucket seats, now designed to be more easily accessible thanks to modified door apertures. Front and centre is a triangular indicator to display the likes of engine speed and lateral Gs, with carbonfibre, aluminium and Alcantara trim all adorned with 3D-printed elements throughout the cabin. There are even dedicated spaces for mounting cameras to capture the action.

There are no plans to put the Alpenglow into production, but with Renault Group already developing hydrogen combustion engines and the ACO set to authorise hydrogen-powered racers from the 2027 24 Hours of Le Mans onwards, it will be fascinating to see where this prototype leads.

> Alpine's A290 electric hot hatch will be unveiled at Le Mans

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