Honda president tells reporters at Geneva that fuel-cell-powered cars are the future of mobility
3 March 2010

Honda believes that fuel-cell-powered cars, and not hybrids or electric cars, are the ultimate mobility solution of the future.

This is according to its president Takanobu Ito, who was speaking at the CR-Z’s unveiling at the Geneva motor show.

Ito said that the firm would continue to offer a range of low CO2 powertrains for the future, but it would ultimately by fuel-cell vehicles, such as its FCX Clarity, that become the volume sellers in the future.

"We will continue to offer mobility solutions with low associated co2 emissions,” said Ito. "We believe that fuel cell cars are the ultimate solution. We have recently produced a solar powered hydrogen refining unit without a compressor that’s 25 per cent more efficient than previous units. Ideal for home use, so you won't need to buy hydrogen elsewhere."

Ito also confirmed there would be a Jazz hybrid in Europe in early 2011, to make Honda’s hybrid line-up threefold. The CR-Z is its latest hybrid model.

"The CR-Z is for people who want fun to drive spirit as well as low emissions. There will have three mode driving system for driver to choose between sporty driving, everyday driving and economy driving.”

Ito’s comments are in contrast to Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, who believes it is electric cars that will provide mobility in the future. His firm is launching four mass-market electric cars in the next two years.

“We want to stretch the boundaries of what is valuable or even possible, whether through an innovative and very competitive global compact car, or the world's first affordable, mass-marketed zero-emission car,” Ghosn told reporters at Geneva.

“We expect annual sales of our global compact cars to top one million units in 2013.”

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12

2 March 2010

So we'll have a choice of how to make electricity for our cars - it's Betamax v VHS all over again! The ambitious, technologically-advanced hydrogen solution, which Honda is committed to (and furthest down the road with) or government-supported electric city cars, ignoring the fact that energy production is simply displaced to an out-of-sight power station (could be wind- or wave-powered, more likely coal, gas or nuclear) and sent inefficiently down the power lines to your convenient road-side recharging point.

If we are going to fix this CO2 'problem' (and manufacturers seem to all want to be seen saving the planet, many whilst simultaneously launching high performance cars in Geneva), simply moving the point of power production simply won't do it. Only a big leap to new sources of harnessing power (eg - using solar power to split out hydrogen cheaply and, hopefully, safely) actually addresses the core issue.

But will Honda-style vision & ingenuity or Renaultesque short-termism & reliance on government grants win the techno-commercial battle? We will all decide in the market, but my head tells me that the behemoths will drag it out so we all end up with the chewed-tape VHS solution.

Mr Honda almost ruined his company by insisting that air-cooled engines were the automotive future, before being persuaded that his new generation of engineers knew better. It will be interesting to see whether their successors in the 'Energy & Mobility' company which Honda will be in 20 years time still has a significant 4-wheel division.

2 March 2010

Either way, it looks like the future is electric. The only question is whether it's best to generate the electricity on-board as in the fuel cell car or remotely as in the pure electric car. Personally, I can't see the problem of energy storage capacity being solved any time soon for electric cars, so it looks like many will be fitted with "range extender" petrol or diesel (or gas-turbine) engines which, of course, means that the hybrid is back in contention. In the meantime why can't we just have light weight conventional cars. Surely we don't need to move a ton-and-a-half of metal around every time we step out of the doorway?

3 March 2010

The only thing wrong with fuel cells at the moment is the lack of refuelling points. Its all very well filling it at home, but you need to be able to fill it while you are out and about too or long journeys cant happen. But when you can just pull into any forecourt and fill up its got to be better than batteries which take too long to charge properly, and lose the ability to hold charge as they age.

I cant see the government being too happy at the thought of a solar powered home refuelling machine though. Where would they get the thousands a year they get from us now? Good thing for them we dont get that much sun!!

3 March 2010

[quote artill]I cant see the government being too happy at the thought of a solar powered home refuelling machine though. Where would they get the thousands a year they get from us now?[/quote] Fear not, we'll all be taxed according to the surface area of our solar panel array, or the diameter of our wind turbine....

3 March 2010

The government are financing all the new technologies with grants, not just electric only cars, hyrdrogen cars will be elligible for the £5k subsidy.

3 March 2010

Honda are clearly committed to the Fuel cell route. Since they are the world's largest manufacturer of engines, around 5 million per annum they arguably have the most to lose!

3 March 2010

As it stands, the technology of the electric car sector is driven by interested parties and a fabricated credo, and not the best rational solution.

Honda is right - for the foreseeable future, hydrogen power is the most fruitful and ecologically benign way of producing the electricity that will power cars.

It doesn't seem likely that batteries small and light enough to compete with the range and efficiency of hydrogen will be created soon, so, where hybrid technology is set aside in favour of ultimate economy, hydrogen is unquestionably best.

The problem is that the most effective solution is also one that would shift the power base of the world's energy producers to the equator. That means Central America and Africa, where solar-cell hydrogen-farms would blanket sunny and desert regions. Hydrogen could then be piped or shipped worldwide, leaving a smaller industry of synthetic fuel manufacturing supplying aircraft and any combustion-engined machinery that is left in production.

Europe could steal a march on the superpowers and develop links with Africa, but instead we are leaving it to China to colonise these areas for its own benefit.

The sinister power brokers who control the global economy (Woo! Spooky! I'm think I'm a conspiracy theorist) are not going to broadcast the need for this fundamental realignment of the world's industrial structure until they've organised the wars, political coups and genocides that will enable them to destabilise these territories and take control of the whole shebang. Woo! Spooky!

If they can't achieve that, the fallacious debates and deliberate misinformation that will flood the mind-market will allow these cynical forces to establish an irreversible reliance on a battery-based infrastructure.

The Americans must be gently shitting themselves at the moment, and if it wasn't for the havoc that they will wreak in the next fifty years as a result, it would be an extremely satisfying scenario.

Whatever happens, I don't believe we will lose completely the unique splendour of petrol engines, as new units will continue to be produced and developed to supply a more specialised performance market. Granted, those cars will eventually be slower and less potent than electric or hybrid contemporaries (and bought out of sheer nostalgia), but there will be a market for them nonetheless.

4 March 2010

at least, one of these two is wrong... but it`s possible that both of them will be!

anyway, Honda is the biggest engine producer (5 millions of them) ... what engines, pall?

ohhh...K! Husqvarna uses them, I now, but even with this recently move from Aston, it`s very unlikely that the blue ovals, the Vauxhalls and the likes of this little world will use a Honda engine, whatever it will be...

... but we never know, the bankrupt GM kept on top more than 2 straight years, but the superpower Toyota will struggle to reach 3 in a row on top...

4 March 2010

I personally believe that Hydrogen is the future also and for the many reasons already listed above. When we talk about the energy power base moving to Africa being a problem, is that really the case? There is already significant areas of this region rich in oil so surely this would be the same as it is now. In my opinion Europe should start working on a co-operative group to build the infrastructure required to create, distribute and store hydrogen across the region. We may not have lots of sun in Europe but we could combine similar methods such as wind, wave, nuclear etc to produce it. As a good proportion of the worlds oil companies are EU based, you'd think that they would be keen to get in on the game - they have the money and a good proportion of the infrastructure already! Can you imagine the shift in car company thought processes if the EU said that every petrol station in every member state capital will have a hydrogen pump by 2015. For once the EU could steer the the world in the right direction. After that it would be market forces the pushes the tech out to other areas. The UK should take a position, instead of hanging around waiting for a winner to be picked - pick a side and then we can start becoming market leaders in the research and delivery of the technology. Otherwise we'll end up in the same state as we are with Nuclear - we need it but know one in the UK knows anything about it so the French are going to build it for us!!!

4 March 2010

[quote coolboy]anyway, Honda is the biggest engine producer (5 millions of them) ... what engines, pall?[/quote]

A lot of those engines are for boats, lawnmowers etc.

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