HIGH-PERFORMANCE HYBRID

With fuel technology at the forefront of today’s automotive industry, the hydrogen hybrid Scorpion stole a lot of looks Tuesday at the SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

It’s got shapely curves, goes 200 mph and gets 40 miles to the gallon, a rare combination in the high-performance sports car world.

Ronn Maxwell, chief executive officer of Horseshoe Bay, Texas-based Ronn Motor Co., said the Scorpion’s Acura V-6 engine is hydrogen-assisted by an onboard system that produces the gas and injects it into the engine to enhance fuel performance.

It eliminates the need for pressurized hydrogen fuel cells and filling stations.

“We have a system that produces hydrogen as we drive down the road. Our technology is a bridge until the other stuff gets improved,” Maxwell said. “It’s something we can do today. It’s a step. Maybe it’s a baby step, but it’s something.”

If the system was bolted to a regular car, fuel mileage would increase by an average of 25 percent to 35 percent and emissions would be reduced to almost nothing, he said.

Ronn Motor Co., which is publicly traded over the counter, plans to take the hydrogen system to the automotive after-market industry in first quarter of 2009.

The dark brown Scorpion on display at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show is one of a kind, though four more are in production. Maxwell said production will be limited to about 200 cars a year and they’ll sell for about $250,000.

“We wanted to show that Americans can do this,” he said. “We’re smart guys. We can use American ingenuity and produce something.”

SEMA spokesman Peter MacGillivray said he was pleased with the vibe and the foot traffic on the show’s first day.

“Our foot traffic is exceeding our expectations. We will easily hit our target of 100,000,” he said. “Granted, I think it is soft. It’s down from last year. But it’s very strong given the state of the economy. I did hear the notion that the people that are here are more focused on business at hand rather than going to a car show.”

SEMA is considered the premier trade event in the $36.7 billion automotive specialty-equipment industry and draws more than 2,000 exhibitors. The show runs through Friday and is closed to the public, though no badges are needed to view exhibits outside of the convention center halls.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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