• Dec 10th 2009 at 5:17PM
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Honda is a green automaker by design. From the very beginning, Honda has sought out ways to reduce size, weight and efficiency, and, after reading an interchange between Autocar and Honda CEO Takanobu ITO, it doesn't seem likely this will change any time soon. The first interesting tidbit that caught our attention is Ito's assertion that Honda's "European sales people are largely to blame" for Toyota overtaking Honda as the green automaker of note in Europe. Interesting, no?
Moving on, Ito says that testing of the FCX fuel cell car is currently underway in Europe and Honda plans to lease the hydrogen-fueled machine there at some point. But don't count on actually purchasing a hydrogen vehicle from Honda any time soon, as Ito says the lack of an infrastructure means the automaker isn't planning on selling any.

On the clean diesel front, it seems that Honda hasn't yet been able to transfer its functioning R&D engine technology to the production line, so work on that project continues. Ito also believes that carbon fiber for mass-produced automobiles is still a ways away. For more on Honda's green car strategies, including its take on battery electric vehicles versus fuel cells, click here.

[Source: Autocar]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      "So when do you think you’ll be selling fuel cell cars?

      We don’t have any plans to sell them as there isn’t a hydrogen infrastructure to support them, and they would be very expensive. "

      Clear and simple: never.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's an infrastructure challenge with both battery-only cars and hydrogen cars. Both of which are currently being addressed.

        It's time we stop trying to choose between two technologies which have not yet made it to the marketplace, still need development and work better together than isolated by themselves.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Never seen a city 100 miles wide before... well maybe in science fiction future stories.

        Tesla Roadster
        Tesla Model S
        Nissan Leaf

        are all examples of "current EV technology"

        • 5 Years Ago
        "...and with current battery technology electric vehicles are city commuters."

      • 5 Years Ago
      Ito se fumo una lumpia.
      Too bad Honda got caught up in the smoke (or steam) and mirrors that is hydrogen.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No smoke and mirrors. Just incremental progress. While the marketing machines crank away, every month, engineers are making a variety of electric technologies (fuel cells AND batteries) better. One of these days, Americans will understand what most Europeans and others around the world already know: that it's smarter to not choose one good technology (batteries) over another good technology (hydrogen) when they can both work together to make a great vehicle.

      • 5 Years Ago
      "Honda is a green automaker by design"
      wow wow, what? so the long history of only ICE cars is what? a freak accident?
      the Clarity is a lie and nothing else. Hydrogen cars is for car makers who does big oil's bidding, the direct opposite of a green car maker. The gen1 Insight was a bit interesting but they replaced it with a not so impressive so so mileage car. we don't need 20% improvements we need plugin hybrids that will allow 100% improvement!
      and make them ultra light and aerodynamic while you're at it. and forget about the damn carbon fiber. use glass instead. much healthier, much cheaper, same strength and low weight. why it's used in boats and planes
        • 5 Years Ago
        Glass would be good. Did American's forget about Hemp? There are hemp panels and insulation in over a million cars on the road already not to mention it has over 20,000 byproducts. Hemp would replace the steel frame, panels just to name a few. Much cheaper, stronger, more flexible, lighter then carbon fiber. The greatest plant in the world...oh wait, it's "illegal" to grow in America. Read about it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't doubt hemp got bad press back in the day same as big oil/auto lied about electric cars but like nimh that was once the best, isn't hemp surpassed these days both in energy efficiency and strength by synthetic materials?
        I'm thinking that rather than let a plant grow, take care of it and process it, that it's far more energy efficient to have solar panels on that area and synthesize the material needed, for instance glass fiber from sand
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honda has never been a pioneer. They wisely wait for any given technology to progress to the point where it can be produced reliably and profitably. Then they proceed.

      R&D on the FCX Clarity allows Honda engineers to be ready with if and when developing technology and fuel prices make batteries and/or fuel cells cost and performance competitive with the ICE.

      Meanwhile, the "greenest" car currently on sale in the USA is arguably the Honda Civic GX (which runs on compressed natural gas)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, Chris, the linked article makes clear that Honda don't see any show-stoppers in reducing the cost of both the electrolytes and the precious metals in fuel cells to commercial levels - which in itself is pretty remarkable, as Honda seems to see difficulties it can't see a way out of in practically everything else.
        Mercedes have been even more specific: they think that they can get the price of the precious metals in fuel cells down to the same cost as those in catalysts in ICE cars.
        Honda furthermore says that the manufacturing costs of fuel cells is low after you have paid for the materials.
        • 5 Years Ago
        In other words, Honda will be ready if someone makes the miraculous breakthroughs that reduce the cost of the materials needed for H2 fuel cells as well as the breakthroughs to reduce the cost of H2 storage (he seems unaware that those high pressure H2 tanks the Clarity uses are made of that carbon fiber that he thinks is unsuitable for mass production!)
        • 5 Years Ago
        lol I don't know in which green planet you live.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This was a disappointing interview. Was it a red herring? It appears they are falling behind. The Germans and Koreans are coming to market with very fuel efficient adequately powerful cars. All of these guys talk like EVs aren't going anywhere while they are dumping tons of money into EV development. Do they "speak with forked tongue?"
      • 5 Years Ago
      The linked article is a real bummer. I like this quote:

      "Battery EVs are heavy, not fun to drive and aren’t reliable, and when it comes to cars lighter is better. FCVs are going in that direction."

      Tesla needs to open a dealership in Tokyo so that the Honda's Japanese investors realize how misguided this CEO is. He is just hoping that people will believe these half truths until he can figure out something.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "$109,000 is a lot of money for a toy."

        What makes it a toy? Or do you just throw that word around because it is fun to drive?

        Remember that $100k is the price for a very low volume (less than 1,000 per year) car. And Tesla's business plan is to use the very high Roadster price tag to fund the Model S.

        Oh, and what of the Model S? At medium volume (10, 000 per year) the price tag is already $50k. At high volume (100,000 per year) a car like the Blue Star (maybe the Leaf) would cost $25k.

        My point is that if you going to compare full production cars, leave the Roadster's high price out of this.

        And even if full production FCVs are $25k each... the fuel costs would never beat a BEV and the cost of building the fueling stations would need to come from somewhere. Honda is betting that nobody is willing to pay for it. And they are right.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "What makes it a toy? Or do you just throw that word around because it is fun to drive?"

        I drive a Miata. It is a toy. But not as much of a toy as the Tesla Roadster.

        A real car satisfies all of the needs and wants of a nuclear family.

        That means:
        Passenger space for at least 4 people.
        Carco capacity for all of their stuff.
        Unlimited range.

        My Miata gets 1 out of 3. The Tesla roadster gets 0 out of 3. It is a toy and nothing but a toy.

        The model S will have 2 out of 3. It will still, therefore, be a toy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        $109,000 is a lot of money for a toy.

        For the same price as a Tesla Roadster, GM, Honda, Toyota, or Mercedes could mass produce an FCV with the passenger space, range, tow rating, and payload of a Chevy Tahoe and supply free fuel for 200,000 miles.

        Of course, an ICE powered Tahoe costs $40,000 and 200,000 miles worth of gasoline costs $35,000 (17 mpg, $3 per gal) for a total of $75,000.

        Honda didn't stay in business this long by building cars that were too expensive for the market. They aren't going to start now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Definition for not a toy:
        "Unlimited range."????

        I guess every car in the world is a toy... cause none of them are "Unlimited range". The gasoline fueling infrastructure took quite a while to build up. The fact that you take it for granted like this proves my point.

        The only difference between fueling and charging is the excess time it takes. And no car has "Unlimited range". When gasoline is $10/gal and every station either shuts down or has a 50 car line... you will find out that your range is "Limited".

        "Passenger space for at least 4 people. Carco capacity for all of their stuff."

        And way to go with the cultural bias saying that a car must fit the "Nuclear family"... sorry but not everybody is like you. Some don't want seating for 4. In Europe, small cars are successful because the "gotta fit the family I don't even have" mentality is not universal. For some folks, carrying around extra capacity is not worth the bulk in narrow roads and small parking spaces.

        And for years my Chevy S10 pickup truck, which only seated 2, was my workhorse and by your definition, THAT was a toy!?!

        Toy is a typical American cultural stereotype of any car that doesn't fit the American image of "bigger than needed". And represents one of biggest obstacles to Automotive change. That mentality that you have sir, is the Problem that makes the green automotive movement so challenging. And when so many of the problems in this country related to foreign oil, we cannot let that mentality get in the way. Change in the automotive sector must not only come from the automakers, but from ourselves too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Could he be so out of touch that he hasn't heard of the Tesla Roadster? Trust me, no Roadster owner would ever consider that BEV to be "not fun to drive and aren’t reliable".

        Nah, more likely he is trying to justify their lack of effort and progress in the BEV / PHEV arena.
      • 5 Years Ago
      compressed natural gas? Somebody thinks T. Boone Pickens is in the house.
      • 5 Years Ago
      >Honda has sought out ways to reduce size, weight and efficiency

      • 5 Years Ago
      Sorry if this rings hoolow, but let's look at the facts:

      1) While Honda doesn't make a v8-powered pickup, it's V6 in the Ridgeline delivers V8-thirsty fuel numbers (w/o the hp or torque of competitors V8).
      2) Honda's full-line Insight hybrid? Toyota's Prius beats it (and has for years).
      3) Honda's Accord hybrid? Discontinued. Nissan offers an Altima Hybrid, Toyota a Camry hybrid, and Ford a Fusion hybrid. Don't tell me their isn't a market. 3 of your competitors are making cars in that arena.
      4) Honda's non-hybrid compact Civic isn't even the most fuel efficient compact (a domestic: the 37mpg Cobalt beats it's 36mpg (while offering more hp and torque).
      5) Honda's Accord nets 31mpg. The Fusion and Malibu are getting 34mpg.
      6) GM/Ford/Subaru/Toyota/Hyundai/Nissan have direct injection engines. Honda? Well, they USED to.. years ago. Heck, GM's SIDI 2.4l made Ward's 10-best engines list. There wasn't a single HONDA engine on the list.

      Tell me why I shouldn't believe this is nothing more than lip-service? Honda USED to be green. Others are far better today. Matter of fact: show me a car/suv/crossover/truck segment where Honda has segment-leading gas mileage.. anyone?
        • 5 Years Ago
        A couple of your "facts" are a little misconstrued.
        #2) "Honda's full-line Insight hybrid? Toyota's Prius beats it (and has for years)"
        The original hybrid (In America) that started this whole hippie craze was the Honda Insight(1999), inspired from the CRX.
        The Insight was brought back in 2009. It's been out for one year. . When the "Prius" came out the Insight was still more effecient...Bottom line. Hybrids and now, not the future.

        #5) "Honda's Accord nets 31mpg. The Fusion and Malibu are getting 34mpg."

        Lets look at the size of these vehicles. The accord is larger both inside and out then then the Ford and Government Motor vehicle.
        I'm not saying Honda is the all-around best manufacturer in the world!
        --Consider this; HONDA is in a turnover period for most of it's models. The Ridgeline is overdue for a redesign. Same with the Element, Odyssey, and soon the Civic. When they come out with their new models and powertrain options, every other manufacturer, esp. Toyota, GM, Ford,Nissan will be spending the next 7 years trying to bring select vehicles to their level. For example the new Civic will raise the bar for the next Focus, Corolla, Cruze ect. Look at the new Mazda 3's interior and many other subcompacts and tell me they didn't take what works best and what sells and apply it into their designs. Basic business: Go with what works. So be carefull what you poke at when almost every manufacturer watches Honda carefully.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A 1999 Insight? A ten-year old vehicle? Doesn't that just reinforce my point that others have caught and surpassed Honda?

        As for vehicle size of the Accord; the Accord weights 3230lbs. A Malibu is 3415 lbs and the Fusion is 3342lbs. Seems to me that both are heavier vehicles than the Accord - yet they both get better gas mileage.

        Lastly, as for revision cycles, isn't Chevrolet's Cobalt significantly OLDER than the Civic? Yet cash-strapped GM can still put out a segment leading 37mpg version of their compact while cash-flush Honda cannot? It's simply inexcusable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Cobalt came out over a year after the 8th gen (current) civic. Critics were comparing the new Cobalt to the 7th gen Civic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Checking this out, and the linked article, it is clear what Honda is NOT doing and has not made work, but there is no sign of what it is doing and can make work.
      Batteries? -Too heavy, and not nice to drive.
      Fuel cells?- No infrastructure.
      Clean Diesel? - Can't get it working.
      Carbon Fibre?- Can't manufacture or recycle it.

      The only thing that is clear is that there is no problem with their direction or products - it is lousy sales people not making clear how great Honda is!

      Contrast this rudderless individual with Ghosn, of Nissan and Renault, who is going flat out for battery cars, or Toyota, who are quite clear that peak oil is coming by around 2016 and are incrementally improving their cars to cope by advancing hybrids.
      You could go through most of the other big manufacturers, and they would all have a greater sense of direction.

      Honda isn't going anywhere with him in charge.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Henry Ford produced the model T when there were few gas stations. Though he was pretty much the only mass producer around back then. May be I could get a 55 gallon drum of hydrogen. That is what gas stations were in the beginning. Stock piles of 55 gallon drums full of gas. Just mass produce your hydro Honda let the rest take care of it's self. What's the worst that could happen, a EV1 experience possibly. Throw caution to the wind. If a hydrogen car is to scary mass produce a EV, just do it.

      David Martin
      Batteries? -Too heavy, and not nice to drive.
      Fuel cells?- No infrastructure.
      Clean Diesel? - Can't get it working.
      Carbon Fibre?- Can't manufacture or recycle it. LOL!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Battery technology has a FAR greater Spill over effect into the economy. Battery technology is rapidly improving. The oil industry is just stuck with CEO's not capable of running an INTEL type of development and production operation. Otherwise, Li batteries would have been build to such a massive scale now that they would already be a Commodity Prices.

        It's the Oil industry fighting:
        Peak Oil
        Global Warming
        And, complaining about drilling expense!

        It's really a question of Management FAILURE.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Although I don't see EV cars as a big job creator in themselves, I think that they in conjunction with other measures can liberate the economy from reliance on oil, and so free it to resume growth.
        For those who do not follow such things, even the IEA now admits that the OECD region will have no real growth in supply between now and 2030, with their projeted increase (from hyper-optimistic expectations of new discoveries and exploitation of FOUR new Saudi Arabia's in the next few years, and an entirely unexplained shift to higher rates of exploitation of all fields in 2015) going entirely to feed the appetite of the likes of China.

        This means that any world recovery is going to be banged on the head by oil prices going through the roof.

        To get out of that trap we need nuclear and EVs, as well as solar etc.

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