Lift off for Hydrogen technology

FUEL CELL: Honda’s FCX Clarity runs on hydrogen.

HONDA and General Motors are joining forces to develop the next generation of eco-friendly engines.

They are betting a chunk of their considerable resources to develop next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage technologies in the belief it is the way forward for ‘green’ motoring.

Many industry insiders believe that to meet ever stringent carbon emission regulations but keep the convenience of traditional petrol and diesel fueled motoring, fuel cells are the way to go.

While rechargeable battery fuelled electric vehicles have restricted range and, despite the growing availability of boosting points, long charging times, fuel cells offer traditional levels of performance. 

Fuel cell vehicles can have up to 400 miles driving range, can be refueled in as little as three minutes, and the propulsion technology can be used on small, medium, and large vehicles. Honda’s FCX Clarity is an electric car. The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen to make electricity. The electricity then powers the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle. Water is the only by product.

The collaboration between the two car giants has a time frame taking them through to 2020.

They expect to succeed by sharing expertise, economies of scale and common sourcing strategies. 

GM and Honda plan to work together with stakeholders to further advance refueling infrastructure to make hydrogen available on petrol station forecourts. That is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles. 

According to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, GM and Honda rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012, with more than 1,200 between them. 

“This collaboration builds upon Honda and GM’s strengths as leaders in hydrogen fuel cell technology,” said Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO. “We are convinced this is the best way to develop this important technology, which has the potential to help reduce the dependence on petroleum and establish sustainable mobility.” 

Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda Motor Co Ltd said: “Among all zero CO2 emission technologies, fuel cell electric vehicles have a definitive advantage with range and refueling time that is as good as conventional petrol cars. Honda and GM are eager to accelerate the market penetration of this ultimate clean mobility technology and I am excited to form this collaboration to fuse our leading fuel cell technologies and create an advanced system that will be both more capable and more affordable.”

GM’s Project Driveway program, launched in 2007, has accumulated nearly 3 million miles of real-world driving in a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles, more than any other automaker. 

Honda began leasing of the Honda FCX in 2002 and has deployed 85 units in the US and Japan, including its successor, the FCX Clarity, which was named the 2009 World Green Car.

Honda plans to launch the successor of the FCX Clarity in Japan and the United States in 2015, and then in Europe. GM will announce its fuel cell production plans at a later date. 

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