Friday, January 8, 2010

Honda’s Fcx Starts Fuel-cell Car Generation

As the Los Angeles Autos Show started this week, Honda’s booth highlights the new hydrogen fuel cell powered FCX Clarity. Its platform was taken from the 2005 concept vehicle of Honda. Honda plans to offer the FCX Clarity to limited Californian drivers with a $600 per month lease for three years. The sleek, low-slung alternative fueled sedan will be the first fuel-cell car to be offered to the public in March of next year.

According to Dan Bonawitz, head of logistics at American Honda, the Clarity will double the fuel economy offered by the Honda Accord as it gets 68 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving with a driving range of 272 miles. Nonawitz also added that their FCX Clarity is made for drivers “who want to be on the absolute cutting edge of gasoline-free technology’. As of the moment, if drivers are interested on this car, they must be residents of Southern California so they can refuel in the limited hydrogen fuel stations in the area.

Few years ago, the concept of a vehicle than runs on hydrogen fuel with only water emissions was only a dream. As Honda introduced the FCX Clarity, the automaker do not just offer the public a vehicle powered by alternative fuel, but it also makes that dream come true.

“We’ve got Honda and Chevy starting to put out these advanced-technology vehicles in noticeable numbers now — that’s a big difference from just a few years ago,” said John Voelcker, automotive editor of IEEE Spectrum, the magazine for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. “[Fuel-cell technology] is expensive, and it takes a long time in terms of research and development, but it’s getting real.”

Last Wednesday, General Motors confirmed that they will also put on the road their hydrogen fuel cell powered Chevrolet Equinox next year. GM will distribute the 100 Chevy Equinox to hand-picked consumers in California, New York and Washington D.C. However, GM also announced that their hydrogen fuel cell powered cars will be in production some time in 2011 or 2012 and the automaker is also targeting to produce more than 1 million vehicles globally a year after 2012.

“Consider that just a few years ago every fuel-cell vehicle was a multimillion-dollar prospect and each one was hand-built,” said Voelcker. “Now, all of a sudden you’re seeing automakers talk about higher numbers. In its last round, GM had a dozen or so; now they’re putting out about 100. Honda will probably put out that number too, and within a few years you could see up to a million on the road.”

On fuel cell powered vehicles, it seems like Ford Motor Co. is left behind and its Chief Executive Officer Allan Mullaly admitted it. The CEO said that they are at least ten years from producing fuel-cell cars as they are concerned with the lithium-ion batteries which are highly flammable. Lithium-ion batteries are also the one installed in electronic gadgets such as cellular phones and lap tops.

“We’re not there yet,” Mulally said Wednesday at the Los Angeles show, adding that the prospect of a vehicle that emits nothing but water is “one compelling vision.”

The Los Angeles Auto Show offered the automakers the venue for their best vehicles to be seen by the Californians. Not just alternative fuel cars are the highlights but also cars with exotic themes and superb style and performance from automakers around the world but American, German and Japanese brands are the fierce contenders. Several vehicles are set to debut from General Motors, Chrysler, Daimler AG, BMW (produces BMW E30 parts), Volkswagen, Ford Motor Co., Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan and others.

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