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Honda FCX Clarity - Click above for high-res image gallery

Honda is not yet ready to concede victory in the eco-friendly automobile wars to the battery electric car. Instead, Honda will continue developing its hydrogen fuel cell technology. Says Takashi Moriya, head of Honda's fuel cell operations, "Fuel-cell cars will become necessary. We're positioning it as the ultimate zero-emission car."

While Honda is the only automaker in the States that's actually put hydrogen-powered vehicles in the hands of paying consumers (GM's Project Driveway loaned citizens a fuel cell vehicle for free for a short while), it's clear that the Japanese automaker isn't making any money on the FCX Clarity now and likely won't any time soon. Fuel cells are expensive pieces of technology, partly due to their high concentration of precious metals like platinum.

Despite the shortcomings of current hydrogen technology – which, in addition to the aforementioned high price of the vehicle itself, include difficulties in capturing the gas in an environmentally-friendly manner, storing and transporting the gas and an inadequate infrastructure – Honda believes its investment will one day pay off. In fact, Honda says it plans to have hydrogen-powered cars on the market by 2020 at costs comparable to cars running on gasoline. Toyota has said it's hydrogen car, due in 2015, will be priced "shockingly low."


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[Source: Bloomberg]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Most importantly there's no point to hydrogen, especially if we find a process to generate Diesel from a Bio process.

      We can then have electric hybrids running with a bio-diesel engine, until we don't need the b-engine.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No, battery tech will start the 3 year upgrade cycle soon. H2, from natural gas, gives us NO Climate Change benefit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I believe it when I see it.

      Don't wait too long though Honda because EVs made get exceedingly popular.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And the ultimate hunt... for a hydrogen station.

      Enjoy pushing that thing once it runs out, there's your zero-emissions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just love how there are so many automotive experts on ABG. Honda has been building cars PROFITABLY for what 50 years? They make more motorcycles than anyone on the planet, they produce more engines than anyone on the planet. Yet per ABG expert posters, they are too dumb to see H2 is a waste of money. The notion that Honda, GM, Toyota, Daimler etc are spending billions on H2 vehicles without doing some "cost analysis" is laughable. It's as if these companies are non-believers who must be converted or burned at the stake.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why don't you punch holes in the arguments then? You say Honda and Toyota know best, but you don't explain how? Well I suppose it's secret magic that we don't know about yet? Between 2015 and 2020 all past history with regards to physics and economics is going to go up in a puff of smoke and ABG posters are going to feel really silly!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mike seems unaware that Honda and Yamaha are bringing out electric motorcycles in 2010.

        Most people seem aware of the thing that glittery eyed EV true believers miss. People want to go farther than a one way commute to work or that batteries have not been suitable even for the small range of a motorcycle. Or that Vectric went out of business due to lack of interest.

        This is what is needed in an alternative vehicles.
        Ability to drive at freeway speeds with a range of 250 miles.
        Ability to refill in about 5 minutes every 250 miles.
        Or a range of 500 miles with a lengthy refill parked at your motel.
        A cost directly comparable to gasoline ICE equivalent.

        Anything less and no one will freely buy one.

        Unless someone invents some new way of storing electricity the EV will not happen except urban commuter, or fleet cars and delivery vehicles for business and government.

        Skeptical as I am about hydrogen, it may have an alternative future with decades of intense development and infrastructure investment, assuming we have water enough and energy enough. In the meantime off course something else may whack the ball out of the park.

        What could be done to save ourselves and the planet is to give permission to our governments to use existing technology now, like seriously increasing CAFE standards, make it punitive to buy something that gets less than 30 mpg, tax the hell out of petroleum fuel products, require a CNG refueling point in every gas station, put light electric railways everywhere with electric commuter cars at cost, put subsidize solar arrays on every busines or house with a roof, and so on and so on.

        You know, don't you, that if we do not do it democratically now, it will be forced on us very unpleasantly in 25 or 30 years, too late to do any good.

        • 5 Years Ago
        With experts like ChrisM, Tohe, Serge, and PaulWesterberg, etc to tell us what it's all about......what the hell do Honda and Toyota know?

        Research like this absolutely necessary to develop such technologies. What hypocrisy from whiners and criticizers...the same bunch that takes everything they use at affordable prices for granted today...only yesterday the parents and grandparents were paying through the nose for.

        Like it or not, advancements on all fronts is happening...and each will find its niche.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So, then they should know the Torque characteristics of the electric motor, and the state of battery tech, and yet the do not build electric bikes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Alan, my point is Honda knows how to build profitable fuel efficient vehicles. I have zero access to their internal engineering nor their cost studies. However, if you are asking whom I would believe when it comes to H2 capable vehicles? I'll put my money on Honda since they have a track record of sustained success. How many ABG posters have built a profitable, mainstream car or even know what Honda has developed already? I'm not one for conspiracy theories so until I see differently I will assume Honda wants to make money, and is not on some secret mission to destroy EVs or themselves.
        • 5 Years Ago
        a
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unfortunately the ultimate car also has the ultimate pricetag.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honda and Toyota are clearly deeply invested in FC Cars and are doing what big companies do when they have a lot to lose. They cranking the PR machine and promoting the solution they have as THE solution. EV manufacturers do the same thing.

      I happen to agree that the efficiency arguments really weigh heavily against hydrogen. It is not a fuel, it is a type of battery. If we think of a hydrogen tank and a FC as a battery here's what it has going for it compared to the state of the art in batteries.

      Pros:

      1. Faster recharge times
      2. More energy per weight (kWh/kg)
      3. More energy per volume (kWh/l)

      Cons:
      1. lower well to wheel efficiency (perhaps 3-4 times lower)
      2. No existing charging infrastructure
      3. Higher cost (for now but who knows when batteries and FC's are mass produced).
      4. Less durable (this also could change)

      I'm sure there are more pro's and con's but I tried to capture the big ones. The key point here is to think of the whole system as a BATTERY (Hydrogen genertion device, hydrogen compression device, Hydrogen Storage, and Fuel Cell). To compare batteries to hydrogen one must draw a box after at the electrical input and compare everything through the mechanical output in order to have a fair comparison.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Again, this shows the underlying connection between the oil industry and the auto industry. A technology that will clearly not be beneficial, economically or environmentally to the American Public is still being pushed as if it really were a viable option.

      When you have a player, as rich as the oil industry, they get to dictate policy, no matter that it Breaks the System, in the long term. That's someone else's problem. They only want to continue the short term profits and let the Public deal with the Costs:

      "Fundamentally, cost externalization, occurs when a company transfers some of its moral responsibilities as costs to the community directly or as degradation to the environment." - Wikipedia

      Now, how did the Japanese oil industry do it? Was there an actual transfer of cash, via briefcase? Or, was there a political path thru the government to the auto industry, a secret dictate?

      It's up to the Japanese people to start asking some questions.

      • 5 Years Ago
      It would be interresting to perform some experiments with these hydrogen fuelcell cars and battery cars. First we can do the fueling with solar panels, windmills and direct from the plug and then compare the numbers. It will cost somewhere between 0 cents to 2 000$ to do the experiments. It will take a fuelcell car , a battery car, a battery charger and a water electrolyzer. Number speak. There is numerous different designs for electric gadgetry. I mean to compare the fueling cost not the performance numbers because fuelcell are 2x or more the performance of batteries.
      The time to fuel a fuelcell is 4 minutes compare to 16 to 1 hour for a battery car. But the main thing is to obtain the cost and if it's from a solar panel or a windmill then the cost of fuel, if done at home is exactly 0 cents for both cars and zero pollution. Nobody in the entire world from the beginning up to today have voiced like me this: it cost zero cents to fuel a battery or a hydrogen tank if done at home with a solar panel or a windmill.

      That's why im driving the market. I just notice what 'one single person' say or decide at a given date and i respond to this folk later on on what he said and each and every time this person consider a miracle that someone have listen for real his opinion.

      Many folks here are not reading opinions, they try to destruct it, confuse it, negate it, then use it for themself later on, LOL. It's exactly like bargaining something at the flea market, you say that it's cheap, ugly, not convenient , too costly and then the seller give up on the price and you buy. This is normal at the flea market but on this site it's not normal in my view, except if you destroy the car manufacturers present offerings and ask for a better, bigger and cheaper green car that cost nothing to fuel, last longer, drive better and without any single pollution too. All is in the attitude.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you do your hydrogen at home with some windmills or solar panels, then it can work 24/24 to produce the hydrogen or at least as much as there is wind or sun because you accumulate the hydrogen in a tank. Then you can make more hydrogen then you need, so you can fuel other car at home or you can sell hydrogen direct from your car tank at work or anywhere else. If you charge your battery at home then you can only charge it when the car is parked at home for 8 hours or more because you cannot accumulate any electricity except if you have 2 batteries and some battery swap tools. Nobody will buy 2 batteries because just one cost 20 000$ or more contrary to a hydrogen tank that cost 700$. You cannot sell excess electricity to friends at work from a battery because it take 8 hours to charge , but you can sell a week worth of hydrogen to someone in 5 minutes.

        Stop basching my ears with old propanganda from the richs that intent to flood the market with subsidized limp technology that each and every manufacturers have said 2 years ago that it don't work before accepting ton of money under the table to promote brain-wash with batteries and stop hydrogen commercialisation.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Efficiency of grid to motor of electric is upwards of 75% Efficiency of grid to motor of hydrogen? 25% or lower

        Either way, you need to generate 3 times the energy to fuel your hydrogen car than with an electric car. Even if you use your own wind or solar, it takes 3 times the amount of time to create the same amount of useable energy for your vehicle with the same equipment, or it takes 3 times the amount of equipment in the same amount of time.
        An electric vehicle can get 3 times the distance off the same amount of power. Worried about charge times? Well, with CURRENT TECHNOLOGY you can decrease those times to 10 minutes or less using bulk charging methods and lithium batteries. That will be a useless argument in a couple years.... far sooner than we'll EVER see any useable (or affordable) H2 cars on the road.

        Electric cars store and release the energy efficiently (90% and higher). The chargers for them are efficient (90% and higher). Both cars use the same technology for their drive train (inverters to control an AC motor).

        Hydrogen cars convert water to H2 (MAYBE 70% efficient), then compress it (MAYBE 90% efficient) then use a fuel cell (getting better, but near 40% efficient). You say it takes only minutes to refuel.... but thats not true. How long do you think it takes the electrolysis/ compression of hydrogen to take place?

        You're just "charging" your H2 car while you're out driving it. Can't you do the same with swappable battery packs?

        Articles to read:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle#Alternatives
        http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/guest/22087/
        http://www.efcf.com/reports/E04.pdf
      • 5 Years Ago
      Funny,I thought the bloggers for hire were concentrating on Public Option
      Healthcare.
      These same Guys here with ties to the Oil Companies and Big Medical:
      http://advantageconsultants.org/index.html
      When H2 cars become the mainstream and I see You Guys charging Your batteries,I'll wave as I pass by.
      I don't see any enemies among the People who are alt.energy believers,only friends.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wonder which self-interest groups are funding battery and electricity research? It's not Goodwill is it?

        Let's all smell the roses and sing Kubaya because we all know how little EV and battery firms care about making money and having the lion's share.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Oil companies hardly need to hire professional windbags like "advantage consultants" to promote their beloved Hydrogen fuel, not when they have characters like Blencoe who do it for free! The Oil companies would rather spend the money lobbying Congress to fund the building of their H2 refueling stations so they don't have to dip into their profits.

        Yes, the Oil companies really do love H2, they are the biggest producers of H2 and have the cheapest source of H2, and they fully intend to sell that profitable new fuel when the oil runs low. All of the major oil companies have H2 development programs and sponsor H2 promotional groups. Shell Hydrogen has even installed H2 dispensers at a few Shell Oil stations.

        When EVs become mainstream and Rain is paying far more for his H2 fuel cell car and 10x more for H2 fuel at the Shell or Exxon or Chevron H2 station, I'll give him a cheery wave from my EV and some sympathy for his plight - but I won't lend him any money.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Another can of worms here. If you took the H2 from water, using solar energy, then transported it using H2 and stored it using solar energy then it would be zero emission, but this will not be the case.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not just a matter of transporting it without carbon emissions. There is also the very real concern of efficiency.

        Even if you had a 100% totally carbon free way of generating it, transporting it, and storing it, there are significant potential energy losses every step of the way. Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not a natural fuel.

        Given the solar energy required to create a certain amount of hydrogen, that captured energy could have been converted to electricity and transmitted at the very efficient power grid to the car without the rigamarole inbetween.

        The only thing that hydrogen has for it, really, is convenience and a familiar "gas station" experience.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The only thing that hydrogen has for it, really, is convenience and a familiar "gas station" experience."


        Make that "theoretical convenience" because there does not even exist a hydrogen car that any average car buyer can buy, nor is one slated for production....that is, unless you can afford to spend in the upper 6-figure range on an experimental prototype. There are promises of such a car...but then again we'd been hearing those same promises for over two decades.

        The Model S will be in production in a couple years, and luxury car buyers can get one with a range comparable to any car. It shouldn't take more than 5 years for those options to be available at "mainstream" prices. Honda needs to do some cost analysis. I'm sure its cheaper for them to begin series production on EV versus wasting money on million-dollar hydrogen cars that are 10 years out (going into infinity). Lease the batteries if you have to, have Magna build them if you need to...but get them out or it will date your company.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Only have to wait till 2020? Hmmm, I think I'll be driving an very efficient alternative to an ICE powered car many years before that. As for my wife's car, that will probably have to wait a bit longer.
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