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Honda FCX Prototype

Honda Civic Hybrid
Honda promises limited consumer trials of its FCX in Japan and the United States along with a new sub $25k hybrid

Honda's hydrogen fuel-cell based FCX prototype has been making the rounds on the auto show circuit for quite some time now. Honda is looking to trade-in the bright lights and show floor turntable for bumper-to-bumper traffic and left lane hogs with a production version of the four-door sedan.

Honda won't say just how many of the vehicles they will make available to John Q. Public, but there are only 20 current-generation Honda fuel-cell prototypes traveling America’s roads. Most are being used by government fleets, while just two are in the hands of actual consumers who lease them for $500 USD per month.

"The consumer focus is where we need to put more attention," stated Steve Ellis, a fuel-cell marketing manager for Honda. "We started with fleets, added a few consumers, now we're going to swing the pendulum."

Honda's FCX prototype uses a 95kW (127HP) electric motor which is powered by a 100kW Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEFC), 171 liter hydrogen fuel tank and a bank of lithium-ion batteries. When working together, the powertrain is able to power the FCX up to a top speed of 100MPH. The FCX also has an estimated 68MPG and a range of 270 miles. Motor Trend pegged 0-60 acceleration at 9.0 seconds -- roughly that of a current-generation Honda Civic with a 140HP 1.8 liter internal combustion engine (ICE).

In other Honda news, the Japanese company is also looking to introduce another hybrid car in the sub-$25,000 price range. The vehicle will feature "unique styling" in the same vein as Toyota's Prius. Honda admits that sales of its Civic Hybrid have lagged behind those of the Toyota Prius mainly due to its more pedestrian looks that don't set it apart enough from garden-variety ICE Civics (save for the whacky wheels).

Honda sold just 31,253 Civic Hybrids during 2006. Toyota’s Prius, on the other hand, saw 2006 sales of 106,971 units making it Toyota’s third-best selling car behind the Camry (448,445 units) and Corolla (387,388 units).

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By GhandiInstinct on 5/14/2007 12:44:43 AM , Rating: 2
That's a nice looking futuristic car.

How much will the hydrogen setup go for?

And anyone else besides me would prefer electric vs hydrogen?

Since hydrogen is so hard to transfer into fuel.

RE: wow
By Whedonic on 5/14/2007 3:04:37 AM , Rating: 2
I'm still not sold on hydrogen fuel cells at all. Besides the lack of a distribution infrastructure, from what I've heard the process of extracting the hydrogen isn't very eco-friendly. That begs the question, what's the point? So I agree that electric is probably a better priority over hydrogen.

RE: wow
By stugatz on 5/14/2007 11:03:44 AM , Rating: 2
But how eco-friendly is the process for creating regular electricity that would charge and power a 100% electric car, we still burn fossil fuels for a majority of that.

RE: wow
By leidegre on 5/14/2007 12:49:32 PM , Rating: 2
Water H2O, is hydrogen, and oxygen. How more eco-friendly can you be?

But the problem is storage, combined with that the energy requiered to break the molecular-bonds in water to extract hydrogen is grater than the energy you currently can regain from the a Fule Cell engine. So a lot of the energy is wasted on heat. The utilization is really bad, but in terms of maintainability and "cleanability" a Fule Cell is an excellent choice.

RE: wow
By wien on 5/14/2007 1:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
combined with that the energy requiered to break the molecular-bonds in water to extract hydrogen is grater than the energy you currently can regain from the a Fule Cell engine.
Currently? We will never get more energy out of a fuel cell engine than we use to create the hydrogen in the first place. You can't get energy out of thin air.

RE: wow
By Hoser McMoose on 5/14/2007 10:50:55 PM , Rating: 2
Water H2O, is hydrogen, and oxygen. How more eco-friendly can you be?

About as eco friendly as a rock, and about as useful too.
But the problem is storage

Yeah, that's one major problem. Hydrogen takes up a HUGE amount of volume as a gas unless you compress it to insane amounts. Storing any gas at 350atm is not an easy task, and hydrogen is by no means an exception.
the energy requiered to break the molecular-bonds in water to extract hydrogen is grater than the energy you currently can regain from the a Fule Cell engine.

CURRENTLY ??? Back to high-school physics for you! We will NEVER get back more energy than we put in! In the words of the wise sage Homer Simpson "In this house we OBEY the laws of thermodynamics!"

You also forgot to mention the fact that transportation of hydrogen is extremely difficult. This is partly related to the storage issue mentioned above (even compressed to 350atm it still has only 1/3 the energy density by volume of gasoline, so 3 times as many trucks/rail cars required) and also related to the fact that sending it through long pipelines is pretty much a lost cause.

Then there's the cost issue. If Honda were to mass produce this car today it would be MUCH more expensive than a conventional vehicle (most estimates I've seen put it at $100,000+).

And finally there's the infrastructure, or lack there of. Estimates for how much that would cost to build range from about $50 billion to $500 billion for the US alone.

And what do we get for all of this? A vehicle who's well to wheel efficiency is, at best, a few percent better than currently shipping hybrid vehicles.

Fuel cells are an excellent choice for cell phone and laptop batteries. For cars they're a terrible choice at least until someone can come up with a HUGE breakthrough in clean electricity generation that completely revolutionizes the entire grid, and that isn't going to happen in the next 50 years.

Fuel cell cars are a great technology for 15-20 years into the future, just like they were 15-20 years ago and just like they will continue to be in 15-20 years time.

RE: wow
By leidegre on 5/15/2007 3:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
I Apologize for not to being clear on that. Obviously I was not talking about the "Laws of Energy Conservation".

I meant the utilization, e.g. a combustion engine generally have less loss in energy (heat), and better energy conversion than a fuel cell. But that's a bit tricky to, becuase as a rule the more current you try to draw from a fuel cell, the more energy you will lose in heat, and thus effiency.

The change in infrastructure is a problem, as mentioned, but as I was reading up on the research yeasterday, I found that there's a company which is fairly certain that they can produce an fuel cel powered by water and sugar. (January 2007)

I realize that this probably sounds more like a joke, but it's still exciting to see what the science will uncover.

Iceland is also the first to build a hydrogen station, which is a fully automated solar-cell power station, which only requieres water.

RE: wow
By Hoser McMoose on 5/15/2007 11:50:51 AM , Rating: 2
Iceland is also the first to build a hydrogen station, which is a fully automated solar-cell power station, which only requieres water.

Neat concept, terrible in practical use. Iceland is one of the world places in the world to put up solar panels due to their extremely norther latitude and fairly rainy climate.

The average solar energy hitting there is probably somewhere in the 100-125W/m^2 range (the UK average is about 125W/m^2 with slightly better conditions for solar). Now figure 20% efficient PV panels (good by todays standards), 65% efficient electrolysis (also very good and unlikely to improve much as this is a very mature technology) and a 50% efficient fuel cell, we get a total efficiency of this whole process of 6.5%. Figure a LARGE 250m^2 array of solar panels and we're talking about 2kW of energy being provided as an end product. The electrical motor of the Honda FCX from this article a 95kW motor, so basically this setup needs to be up for 47 hours for every one hour of running the motor of a single car at full tilt.

Better hope that your next door neighbor doesn't want to get a fuel cell car too, because if so you're going to need another fueling station for them too!

RE: wow
By hubajube on 5/14/2007 1:38:47 PM , Rating: 1
The point isn't efficiency. The point is not using fossil fuels. Also, it doesn't matter if it takes fossil fuels to create the car, that's not OUR problem, that's the manufacturers problem. Cars like these will enable us to do our part to save the environment. That's all that matters.

RE: wow
By newcastlenellie on 5/14/2007 3:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
The point is not using fossil fuels

Sadly to create the hydrogen or to charge the electric batteries you need, electricity, and how is most electricity made, that's it you got it, fossil fuels, until everybody lightens up on nuclear power fossil fuels will be everywhere. and all in one sentence!!

RE: wow
By Hoser McMoose on 5/14/2007 10:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
Making hydrogen through electrolysis is not particularly economical. It is possible to do, but not very common.

The VAST majority (~95%) of all hydrogen produced comes from, get this, fossil fuels. More specifically it almost all comes from natural gas which is chemically separated into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

RE: wow
By doctor sam adams on 5/15/2007 1:22:32 PM , Rating: 2
Is that how they gas up the Space Shuttle?

Makes more sense....

RE: wow
By AstroCreep on 5/14/2007 5:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm...I think it looks like a suppository, but that's just me.

Nice Hybrid
By Assimilator87 on 5/14/2007 12:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, that is one ugly car, but it's nice to see a hybrid where gasoline isn't part of the equation. I never thought I'd see a hydrogen/electricity hybrid. I thought gas/electric hybrids would eventually transition over to completely hydrogen based cars.

Why are the wheels on the Civic Hybrid so big? Looks like it would lower the MPG rating.

RE: Nice Hybrid
By Jedi2155 on 5/14/2007 1:04:52 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, I love the look of those wheels, I find Civics one of the best looking family cars for some reason, but I still prefer a Prius overall due to enviromental reasons.

I wouldn't douut the possibility that the extra weight might reduce its MPG by a .1 or .2 lol.

RE: Nice Hybrid
By vtohthree on 5/14/2007 9:38:08 AM , Rating: 2
It's not really a Hybrid perse. All Hydrogen Fuel Cells will be pushing electric motors. Key words "Fuel Cell"'s not internal combustion.

RE: Nice Hybrid
By zsdersw on 5/14/2007 11:01:33 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, come now.. there are *far* uglier vehicles than that FCX prototype.

It's got a look that could easily grow on me.

RE: Nice Hybrid
By h0kiez on 5/14/2007 12:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think it looks pretty hot.

RE: Nice Hybrid
By hubajube on 5/14/2007 1:33:54 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like a dildo.

RE: Nice Hybrid
By Hoser McMoose on 5/14/2007 11:10:33 PM , Rating: 2
I thought gas/electric hybrids would eventually transition over to completely hydrogen based cars.

Expect all fuel cell vehicles to be built like this. The reason is that fuel cells alone are very poor at handling the widely varying dynamic response of typical driving. They work best by being either on or off, no in betweens.

The only way to get a fuel cell vehicle working well is to have a battery pack (or potentially a really big capacitor) that you can charge up when you can spare the extra juice from the fuel cell and then discharge when the motor needs the power.

It's not exactly a 'hybrid' in the same sense of current hybrid vehicles, since there will only be a single type of drive train (electrical), however a lot of the same principles apply. In addition to that it makes it rather easy to make use of regenerative braking (how current hybrids charge their batteries), reusing otherwise wasted energy.

Hydrogen is NOT eco-friendly
By Surak on 5/14/2007 4:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
So many people posting here have totally missed the point on Hydrogen.

Yes, consuming hydrogen in a fuel cell is clean, producing only water for exhaust. Even burning hydrogen in a modified ICE is a lot cleaner than gasoline.

But where does the hydrogen come from?

'ohh its ok, it comes from water!' - Such an ignorant answer!

How much oil, coal, or natural gas was burnt to create the electricity used in breaking the hydrogen out of water?

How much fossil fuel pollution was simply shifted from your car to the power plant / hydrogen plant rather than being eliminated?

In places like British Columbia, Canada, where most of our electricity comes from zero emission sources (hydro dams) ... its all good, you can happily go on knowing your fuel cell / hybrid / electric car is really helping reduce emissions.

But most of the rest of north america is just fooling themselves if they think using hydrogen reduces emissions to nothing but water.

Now if your local american fossil fuel power plant is forced to capture and sequester all the CO2 it produces, you can relax a bit. It is easier to grab all the CO2 from one source (the plant) instead of thousands of sources (the cars). ... but this will never happen as long as the american political bribery system (lobby groups) are allowed to continue their evil ways.

After this, do we even need to bring up the problems with storing high pressure hydrogen, how there is no pressure vessel that Hydrogen can't seep through and escape to be wasted, how much more dangerous it is in an accident, how much less dense the energy potential of a litre of liquid hydrogen is compared to gasoline .....

RE: Hydrogen is NOT eco-friendly
By OxBow on 5/14/2007 5:31:13 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, even if the electricity is coming from an old, decrepit, grandfathered coal plant it's still better than us using gas. It's a whole lot easier to clean up a couple thousand power plants than it is to clean up all those millions of cars.

Yes, the power to crack the hydrogen has to come from somewhere, and any form of power generation has some negative environmental impact. However, whether you're getting your juice from coal, nuke, wind, solar or cow flatulence, your still looking at one point source providing a clean product to many, rather than a hundreds of thousands of point sources scattered all over the place.

Even if the shift from car to plant yields a larger carbon footprint over the previous model, the shift in sources will allow for greater gains down the road as concentration can then be placed on reducing one big footprint instead of hundreds of thousands of smaller ones. A .5% impact at the powerplant would yield far greater results than at the gas pump.

By Hoser McMoose on 5/14/2007 11:27:29 PM , Rating: 2
But where does the hydrogen come from?

'ohh its ok, it comes from water!' - Such an ignorant answer!

Not only ignorant, but also totally incorrect. The vast majority of hydrogen comes directly from fossil fuels. About 95% of hydrogen production comes from chemically separating natural gas into hydrogen and CO2.
but this will never happen as long as the american political bribery system (lobby groups) are allowed to continue their evil ways.

The problem is not evil lobby groups, or even Republicans! The REAL problem is two fold:

1. Sequestration of carbon dioxide is REALLY expensive while the actual market to sell the stuff is pretty limited. If you can sell the CO2 pretty much immediately you have no choice but to get rid of it, and power plants produce CO2 in such HUGE volumes that the only way to get rid of it is to release it into the air.

2. Sequestration reduces your power plant efficiency, meaning you need to burn MORE coal/oil/natural gas to get the same amount of power, and what that really means is more actual pollution (as opposed to CO2 which is a greenhouse gas but not a pollutant) released.

As for BC, or even Quebec, and their hydro dams, they are by no means safe either. More electricity use directly means more dams need to be built since there is basically no 'off peak' power production from hydro-electric dams. First off this requires that you actually have somewhere to build you dam, and secondly building dams is not all that environmentally friendly requiring the flooding of vast areas, releasing greenhouse gases from decaying vegetation, increasing mercury and other heavy metal levels in the water and eventually the food supply. Ohh, and lets not forget the millions of tons of concrete, the production of which results in lots of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Long story short: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. EVERY solution has it's share of problems, both economical and environmental.

Hurray for more hybrids!
By Jedi2155 on 5/14/2007 1:03:00 AM , Rating: 2
Lets hope this new styled Honda hybrid would be more enviromentally conscious than their Civic Hybrids, then I'll consider it more.

For me, when deciding a product I usually consider them in terms of:
1. Performance in what it does
2. Features
3. Looks

For me the Civic Hybrid looks far better than the Prius, it does not have as many features, and its performance is only comparable. But its enviromental performance in NOx emissions is signifcantly more than the Prius as Honda makes little attempt to reduce it while Toyota incorporates a number of features to reduce it.

For that reason I am glad that the Prius is more popular, especially in dirty Califorina. I hope more people will see and understand the benefits a hybrid be it a Honda, Toyota, Ford, or even a GM. Every little bit helps, but my next vehicle will certainly be a Prius as it is currently the best in its class.

RE: Hurray for more hybrids!
By Freshies on 5/14/2007 5:58:46 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the difference in NOx emissions applies to the newer Civics (post-2006).

There were 2 versions of the pre-2006 Civic Hybrid. The lean burn version is the one with the poor NOx emissions, and that was the version most easily found in dealers. The reason was primarily marketing--the lean burn version gave better mileage but at a cost of worse NOx emissions.

In any case, the newest (post-2006) Civic versions are all low on NOx. There are no lean burn Civics made anymore. In fact, the newest Civic is cleaner than the Prius with respect to smog emissions. The 2006/7 Civic gets an EPA Air Pollution Score of 9.5 (10 is best) and is BIN 2 rated. The 2006/7 Prius has a Air Pollution score of 8 and is only BIN 3 rated.

The Civic Hybrid and Prius are both great cars, and I'm happy to see both of them on the roads. The NOx difference between them is no longer an issue.

By Hafgrim on 5/14/2007 3:21:53 AM , Rating: 2
Beautiful, Sleek, Technological, & free from oil! I'd buy this cool new Honda. Cant wait to see how much it costs.
I actually love the look of this sleek sadan style. Check out all the interior room too. Perfect for a PS3 for HD bluray playing, ahh to the future! Ford should come out with a hydrogen car asap! =)

Hope more hydrogen fuel stations come out or lets just pump it
to all gas stations just like natural gas is now. -_^ *Dreams*.

Cool stuff to watch here about the evolution of the Honda FCX.

By cpeter38 on 5/14/2007 12:22:08 PM , Rating: 2
Ford released a fleet of 30 Fuel Cell vehicles back in 2005 (the Fuel Cell Focus). It is good to see Honda finally start to address consumers (not just "technology demonstrators") ...

By sprockkets on 5/14/2007 11:01:11 AM , Rating: 2
If it is a dedicated hybrid car, it just has to look ugly it seems.

RE: hybrids
By Munkles on 5/14/2007 3:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
Not bashing the vehicle, or what it does... but man do I ever agree.

Glad to see it in production
By theapparition on 5/14/2007 8:43:01 AM , Rating: 2
I applaud car manufacturers that are making strides to improve, be it on emissions, efficiency, safety, or performance. It will be nice to see a fuel cell car on the road.
Now, onto the government, don't force me to buy it. Because I won't.

I want one.
By OxBow on 5/14/2007 9:55:52 AM , Rating: 2
For those of us who live in rural areas, hybrids don't make any sense. We need alternative energy, not just an expansion of city mileage rates. I'm not saying hybrids aren't good, but they aren't the solution for everyone.

I want to see a consumer hydrogen fuel cell car. This would be perfect for me (albiet, the only hydrogen fueling station is at the Dow chemical plant one town over).

As for the environmental impact of creating hydrogen for these, it's not great, but it's far less than what we're doing now. It also depends on what type of hydrogen fuel you're trying to use. If you're using straight hydrogen split from water, it's not bad at all. If you're using a "heavier" version such as one generated from propane, that's a different story. Each has it's own trade offs.

Anyway, this looks like the perfect car for the suburban or rural commuter. I'd like mine in blue, please.

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