Hayek's previous auto project, the Smart Fortwo, was originally designed as an all-electric vehicle. However, such technology was either not feasible or not affordable when the car was developed in the 1990s. Daimler, the German auto giant chosen to produce the car, supplanted the electric motor with small petrol and diesel motors instead. Unhappy with this substitution, Hayek disassociated himself from the Smart project.
As yet unnamed, Hayek's car is to be a small, efficient, all-electric powered city car. The project's fuel-cell engine is expected to cost between US$15-25 million to develop, and will be marketed to manufacturers beginning in 2010.
Group E, a Swiss energy firm, and the Paul Sherrer Research Institute have partnered with Hayek on the project. The team will work on overcoming the difficulties involved in fuel-cell design and mass production.
We'll have to wait another two-and-a-half years to see if his project bears any fruit.