Friday, February 13, 2009

The "grand and lovely futility" of Honda's FCX Clarity

Dan Neil has another must read article in today's LA Times. He heaps praise and digs the grave of Honda's fuel cell marvel. I'd really like to hear what the other Dan, CARB Board Member and hydrogen fuel cell stalwart Dan Sperling, thinks upon reading it.

It is the most expensive car he's ever driven; he figures about $2 million. It is limo-spacious and drives electric-smooth. It is extremely well-appointed down to the walnut wainscoting and eco-friendly plush fabrics.

The 200 Angelenos who get to lease Honda's limited-production show dog will be impressed. Honda will be pleased, as it gets greater CARB ZEV credits.

But Dan, uniquely among auto journalists, is not taken in by the elegant and sophisticated trappings.
Hydrogen fuel-cell technology won't work in cars. It's a tragic cul-de-sac in the search for sustainable mobility, being used to game the California Air Resources Board's rules requiring carmakers to build zero-emission vehicles. Any way you look at it, hydrogen is a lousy way to move cars.
He runs through the numbers and shows the lousy efficiency of hydrogen compared to electricity. And challenges hydrogen advocates to a duel: "I'll meet you on the field on honor. Calculators at dawn."

But this is no wasted effort on Honda's part. When battery electric cars appear in the competitions' showrooms, Honda will take out the fuel cell and H2 tank and greatly increase the battery storage already in the vehicle. Honda will be ready to go electric. Of course consumers are ready today. As Dan concludes his piece: "Just bring me one that I can plug in."

Full article available here.