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Honda Sees Mass Production of Fuel-Cell Cars Possible by 2018

29 December 2006

Honda Motor Co. thinks it will be able to mass produce fuel-cell vehicles for the general market by 2018, Honda President Takeo Fukui said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

Honda plans to begin leasing a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle based on its FCX Concept in Japan and the United States in 2008. The stack in the current FCX Concept delivers 100 kW of power, and the vehicle has a range of 560 kilometers (350 miles). (Earlier post.)

By evolving a next model based on this, I think the level of technology will become very close to that of mass-produced ordinary vehicles within 10 years or so. In 2018, I believe the development [of a fuel-cell car] will have been very advanced. It will become a real possibility to a large degree.

—Takeo Fukui

Fukui told Kyodo that there will be many customers who want to buy a Honda fuel-cell car if it goes on sale for ¥10 million (US$84,000) in the general market. Estimates peg the price of current fuel cell cars at more than 10 times that figure.

Challenges that still need to overcome before mass production is possible for Honda include reducing the amount of noble metals used for fuel cells, improving hydrogen storage and lower-cost production of hydrogen, according to Fukui.

December 29, 2006 in Fuel Cells, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (40) | TrackBack (0)


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Honda has a good record of not over-promising.

They think the time frame for routine FC vehicles is roughly a decade away. The hype from others about 'real soon now' just seemed ??? to me.

My estimate is about 2014 based upon astonishing skill and intensive research. The Honda estimate can't be as good.


Have a good 2007.

This worries me.

mass produced Fuel Cell cars means a big demand for H2.

Currently that means natural gas, which we are running out of.

By 2018 batteries will have become advanced enough to allow for EVs, which will almost certainly be cheaper to produce, run and maintain than fuel cell cars.

I hope Honda isn't going to push for a hydrogen economy, which would be a great waste of money.

By 2018, we should be seeing 40% new flex bio-fueled vehicles on the road delivering 40-60 MPG service. Ten years down the road of PHEV and BEVs will deliver 150 MP Charge vehicles at a cost of around $1.00 per gallon equiv electrical energy (dependent on charge rate.)

The H2 infrastructure, H2 production/storage economics will need to be on a fast track to support Honda's mass market prediction. So far - we don't see these numbers.

Honda is speaking about the ability to routinely build and market them at a sane price, not about H2 production and distribution.

I too am sceptical about the H2 economy. The only way I see it working is magic (to be frank).

But if H can be held in solid matrices material - nanotech? - at enough density (volume & weight), be easily released, the material is cheap and durable, etc. then the usage end of the problem may get fixed.

The production end is ultimately dependent upon the cost of electrical power although extraction from NG or almost any fossil or bio fuel is the more useful method today.

Liquid hydrogen in interstate pipelines? Yep! Pixie Dust Inc. will dominate that induatry.

One no vote for on-board conversion of NG to H2 to fuel cell. Besides the extra complexity, where would all that stripped-off carbon go? But such vehicles are good test beds and demos for today.

Honda has their own refueling station that can provide H2, electricity, heating and cooling for your home, right in your garage. Now where you are going to get the H2 when you are out on the road is another matter. Making SNG out of biomass and coal is possible. The SNG delivery to fueling stations via the present NG pipes is possible. The fueling station would reform SNG for H2.

Only $84,000 in mass produced quantities 11 years from now huh?

I should be able to buy a Tesla for around the same price or cheaper 11 years from now and that is far from a mass produced vehicle (in fact many of the components are more labor intensive then used on the Lotus Elise upon which it is based such as the carbon fiber body panels).

H2 fuel cell cars have been a decade away for the last 40 years. In 2018 they will still be a decade away.

Concerns regarding "H2 infrastructure, production/storage economics?"

Let be known that H2 is the easiest fuel to produce from primary sources of energy such as waste biomass, coal, solar, wind, and nuclear energy. By producing H2 just-in-time to meet demand and close to the source of consumption, the problem of storage and distribution is easily solved. Feedstocks for H2 production can be easily stored and transported to near the point of consumption.

Initial H2 infrastructure can consist merely of a truck-tanker with compressed H2 at ~8000 psi, equipped with H2 dispensing mechanism and credit card and cash accepter, parked at street corners or in a gas station. An H2-vehicle just parks next to the tanker and fuelup and pay via credit card. When the truck is empty, another one will arrive to replace it. Initial investment would be low. Transporting H2 locally within a city's vicinity will result in only 2-3% loss of efficiency. Electrical transmission from power plants incurs ~8% loss.

When more and more H2-vehicles will be built, the increase in demand will justify H2 pipeline for transporting H2 from a local producer. Natural gas reformation can be used to produce H2 from natural gas pipeline. The efficiency is ~75%, but if the heat used in this reaction is recycled to produce electricity via sterling or steam engine, then the efficiency will be a lot higher.

I see no problem in the H2 economy. The initial investment is reasonable and cost-effective. The efficiency from source to wheel can be just as high as electricity powering BEV. The potential gain in thermal efficiency using H2 can be much higher than petroleum usage today.

Think fuel cell powered cars are a pipe dream. go to check it out

Generation 4 nuclear power plants will generate enough heat just by creating electricity to seperate hydrogen from oxygen in water, so if we had mass produced fuel cell cars by 2020, that solves the problem on how to get the hydrogen. Just because right now the technology isn't there, doesn't mean it won't be(just like with BEV's being "impractical" today). Plus the world is going to run out of Litheum soon enough that we won't be able to make electric cars using that any more, so what next? Too me hydrogen is the ultimate in transportation for the future, as long as we can get it cleanly. At the same time i also believe that politions are using it to try to appear green, without having to do anything.

Do the math!! 2007 Prius $22,175 MSRP, adjusted for inflation a
2018 Prius is $32,450. What's the mileage for a 2018 Prius ?
I'd say 80mpg is very doable. The Chrysler ESX3 was doing 72mpg with a cost premium of $7,500 in 2003! This doesn't include additional batteries for Plug-in.
Where the F is the benefit of a Fool-Cell?

DS, Conservation just doesn't cut it, even if everyone who drives now, drove a prius, we'd still have problems with global warming, a little less, but we'd still be in trouble.

The Chrysler ESX3 was part of the PNGV program. Ford and GM also had diesel hybrids capable of 70 mpg in 1999. If you are worried about the supply of lithium, how about the supply of platinum for FCs?

WTF!!! are you tacking about Brad!!! Well-to-wheel the Fool-Cell is no better than Hybrid. H2 is NOT an energy source!
We're still in problem if all C02 emissions end today!
H2 is a scam to make people think there is "A Solutions" just around the corner.

H2 is not an energy source, as many have pointed out.

It is also vital to note that converting electricity to H2 through electrolysis, and back to electricity through a fuel cell is very inefficient.

In the end the following fact is undeniable.


Even with gen 4 nuke plants and intermediate breeder reactors it makes more sense to transfer the electrons straight into EV batteries via the grid.

As for H2 generation via Nuclear heat, how much could we generate? Enough for 200 million Fuel Cell cars?

Many advocates of the hydrogen economy will point to my favorite critter, algea, as a potential source of H2.

It is true that high efficiency algea bio-reactors could generate enough H2 for fuel cells, but that still dosn't solve the infrastrucuture problem.

Transporting H2 will require massive investments in new pipelines and other modes of distributuion.

Also, H2 will leak from tanks over time.

In the end an electricity/bio-mass infrastructure makes more sense and is already further along than H2.

For those what will point to the alternative energy generation infrastructure and cry, "that will also cost a fortune!" I say this:

Yes wind power, in order to maximize winds from the plains and texas, would cost $1 trillion, (from some book or article, anyway it will cost a lot.)

And solar, wether nano-solar paint or extrememly efficient panels also will cost a lot, as will gen 4 nuke plants.

But those are things that we will need in the future, if just to keep the lights on.

They could then also be used to charge super dense batteries in EVS.

Thus building an alternative energy infrastructure kills 2 birds with one stone,(3 since it also solves Global climate change).

A H2 infrastrucutre is not something we definetly will need,(since H2 is an energy storage method, alternative energy generators will need to be built regardless).

Thus a hydrogen economy is something that is a pointless waste of money.

As was pointed out above, platinum will never be a cheap metal, and mass production of FC stacks will only increase the price.

EVs can be made cheaply, (The Mitshubishi Miev will sell for $18K) while FCVs will never be able to sell for anything near such a price.

To forge a proper opinion about hydrogen check out this link.

Hydrogen is a mean of storing energy, not a source of energy, it's a lot less efficient than batteries and hydrogen is difficult to store, leaks are a major problem, I would not want to have a hydrogen powered car
in my garage...Also fuel cells are very expensive and have poor reliability and life. I would rather have a plug-in hybrid with a methanol based fuel cell or generator for long range trips.


Roger - "I see no problem in the H2 economy."

I see a huge problem that of why bother? On the Tesla website is an analysis of wheel to well efficiency and fuel cell cars are much less efficient than battery electric cars.

As hydrogen is an energy carrier it is vastly worse than the present very efficient energy carrier of electricity. Why build a new one with less efficiency? As you have seen in previous posts the Altair Nano battery packs are being delivered and only need to be mass produced. The electric drives, which a fuel cell car will use anyway, are ready for mass production today. What is the biggest single advantage of H2 that would justify waiting until 2018 for a car?

"Initial H2 infrastructure can consist merely of a truck-tanker with compressed H2 at ~8000 psi,"

To get H2 to 8000psi you would need to use approx 20% of the energy stored in the hydrogen. To liquify it takes 40%. Can you imagine how many trucks, using hydrogen to power them, it would take to service the normal car fleet?

You would prefer this to a battery electric cars charging at home or at a parking stations and being a part of a wider V2G network enabling a vast expansion of renewable power?

A fuel cell car is a hybrid electric car anyway with a fuel cell as a range extender. Why not support battery electric cars and IC petrol electric cars now and promote their expansion, and in 2018 when the fuel cells and tanks become viable we can replace the IC hybrid cars with fuel cell hybrid cars if thats what people really want. Most people with normal driving habits, of less than 20km per day, can use battery electric cars and people with the need to often drive long distances can use fuel cell hybrids.

Uk 84000 is the normalprice for thier cars in japan:)

As far as the fuel cell itself... much as the first battery packs were immesnely expensive because a team of realy expenive people put em together same here.

Once Hose is grinding these puppies out 12 hours a day for a few bucks they will be MUCH cheaper.. specialy as they get rid of all the spendy bits and replace em with cheaper new materials... m

And h2 production...

They are HEAD of target to reach the ability to sell it at 3.50 a gal equive by target date. Cant be sure they will hit that target but they are sure to not miss by a huge amount.

Storage... they have designe hceaper tanks that store enough.. they just need to fiddle with the tank a few more years before they mass produce the puppy.

And how much of the biofuels industry will withstand global warming and climate change?

How much of it will withstand cheap sea trasport going bye bye as bunker fuel and low grade fuels go bye bye?

Yes we will hopefull have switchgrass and algae fuels and this and that in time.. Very likely in fact. But how many cars will that handle?

What kinds of cars will use biofuels in 2020? Who will forgo biofuels for h2 in order to ... oh say get away from the huge list of limits and design constraints we will place on such cars? They will after all still belch out crap...

Will you be able to buy a non h2 suv in 2020? A non h2 hummer? A non h2 high performance lux car?

Not bloody likely.

Suv bmw laborgienie rolls roice jaguar lexus ... Need I go on?

Its not the ford escort or the litle put put car from that company withn waaat to many constanants in its name that will go h2. Its the big ticket items.. the money makers.

Any questions?


U r right! Just adapt the Prius III to run on H2, and you can avoid the uncertainty regarding "fool cell". However, I would respect the opinion of Honda's CEO regarding the future of fuelcell, since Honda has been known to deliver on their promises! Why H2 instead of petroleum? Petroleum may not be sufficiently available in a few decades, while global warming is accelerating!

Adam, Andre, and Ender,

Altairnano batteries are recently sold at $75,000 for a 35kwh pack. And the data on its shelf life isn't even known. What if it will deteriorate after 5-10 years like most rechargeable batteries now-available, regardless of use? When will the price go down enough to make this affordable?

Careful analysis of H2's source-to-wheel efficiency will reveal that it will be quite comparable to BEV's overall efficiency, when H2 is produced, stored and distributed by the most efficient means available. The energy used to compress H2 by the isothermal process is only about 10% of its total energy. This energy is not loss but is largely stored in the tank itself. (have you heard of compress-air motor?) This energy is potentially recoverable to provide additional power to the car. The H2-tanker example I've illustrated represents a low initial investment more appropriate when there are only a small percentage of H2-vehicle around. With more H2-vehicles around, the gas stations will have commercial incentive to have H2 pipeline installed, or NG reformation equipment built-in. Honda plans to offer home-produced H2 from NG reformation of NG from pipeline. Kinda like having an electric charger for your BEV's at home!

All the info that you've read regarding the inefficiency of H2 are misinformation by those with an agenda to promote other forms of alternative energy, or by those who have not kept up with the latest in developments.

Roger - Not sure about the isothermal method you mention - perhaps you can post a link. I found this:

"The laws of thermodynamics dictate the amount of energy it takes to compress a gas. The physical properties of hydrogen make it the most difficult of all gasses to compress. At 800 bars, a perfect, single stage compressor consumes energy equal to 16% of the chemical energy in the hydrogen. (This is the energy that gets instantly released in the event of a tank failure.) It is possible to use a multistage compressors with intercoolers to achieve 12%. This is an estimate extrapolated from an actual multistage compressor working at 200 bars. A multistage compressor working at 800 bars does not exist."

"Altairnano batteries are recently sold at $75,000 for a 35kwh pack."
Absolutely correct however this was an order for 10. They would have been hand assembled and do not in any way represent what the price would be for say 1 million units. Try ordering a commercial car fuel cell or a 10 000 psi tank in quantities of 10. Even if they were available you would not get much change out of a couple of million. If you think the wear characteristics of the AltairNano pack are not known how about the long term properties of fuel cells as the catalyst gets poisened with the inevitable impurities that will crop up in commercial large scale hydrogen production. Present fuel cells require laboratory grade 99.9% pure hydrogen or they stop working. I know this from speaking to people about the fuel cell buses they have on trial here in Perth. To produce this level of purity most of the natural gas used to produce it is wasted and the process is very inefficient.

"Honda plans to offer home-produced H2 from NG reformation of NG from pipeline. Kinda like having an electric charger for your BEV's at home!"

Well that great however Peak Gas is just as big a problem as Peak Oil. You are just trading one limited fossil fuel for another. Electricity can be produced efficiently from renewable sources and distributed with the present infrastructure. Battery cars can be also charged from home installed solar panels or wind turbines.

"All the info that you've read regarding the inefficiency of H2 are misinformation by those with an agenda to promote other forms of alternative energy"

No my objection is from a careful analysis. The main advantage of H2 is for large corporations to keep their brands and also continue to sell their branded fossil fuels making large profits until 2018 when they can sell branded H2 at similar large profits.

If I were in the car business, I would consider getting into the biofuels business. Car companies are just too dependant on oil to leave it to speculation and manipulation. I would get all the car companies together and start a consortium to invest in biofuels that distribute through independant dealers. They could provide fuel at a resonable price to take the uncertainty out of purchasing a car.


Read the article again. $84,000 is what they are targeting for MASS production using your "low hourly wage" workers. Currently the price is roughly 10 times as much.

It better have a ton of premium content at virtually no charge (heated leather power seats, navigation, etc) otherwise these will have more trouble selling than anything produced yet.

Wow! I wish we could bottle the heat energy being generated in some of these comments and use that to power my car, it would probably drive it for a week! Now I don’t know about most of you but I read these postings for informational value and because I hope for a cleaner environment tomorrow, having said that I think some of you are WAY too partisan toward a particular solution and way too quick to drop on disagreement. Lets face facts. Given the high cost of reliable, long term electrical storage a full up electric is probably not the car that wins next year, next ten years maybe, but not next year, and given the technical challenge of storing and transporting hydrogen that ain't happening soon either. So do we give up on R&D for these two technologies?
My answer, at least, is of course not. There are enough specialized energy usage applications within the transportation sector that each of these might have an application somewhere (just as live steam or compressed air engines have a specialty use in fire/explosion hazard areas,) both Hydrogen and full up electric will continue to make sense. To my mind full electric vehicles make sense if the battery life, charge cycle, and materials (toxicity and weight to power ratio) problems can be licked. Of course that assumes that we're going to be generating the electricity from something other then fossil fuels, otherwise we're simply moving the pollution source. Likewise Hydrogen is just fine, if someone can show a good way to transport it and store it that addresses the loss problems. Again I assume that production is NOT from fossil fuels but is instead from high temperature steam extraction rather then from fossil fuel cracking, otherwise (as many of you have noted) we're simply moving the problem elsewhere in the production chain. I do caution those that advocate electrical vehicles though to consider the sorry state of the US electrical grid (the only one with which I am familiar, other nations might also be frelled as well) The electrical infrastructure and generating capacity are often at limits, without major investment in this “delivery” method, full electric vehicles stand as little hope as do Hydrogen cars.
In the short term hybrids and bio-fuels are the answer, especially cellulosic based bio-fuels or non-food based bio-fuel sources (algal based bio diesel for example). Increased use of renewable electrical production with stop gap investment in pebble-bed nuclear plants, even better applications software and communications infrastructure to allow more telecommuting and less actual commuting might help.
But for the long term don’t disparage any technological development no matter how wrong headed you think it is, I guarantee we’ll need and use it somewhere. If it’s impractical the marketplace will kick it to the curb. (Can ships be powered by really large batteries across oceans? Can Airplanes that have strict weight to size ratios? Transport comes in many sizes.)



It is impractical to compress to 800 bars using single stage compressor. 800 bars is over 10,000 psi (14.7 x 800=11,760 psi) . The heat generated would melt everything, and the energy used would be too high. It would be best to compress to 8,000 psi using 4-staged compressors, with 5.3 compression ratio per stage. (5.3^4= 789 psi), with 4 stages of intercooling to greatly reduce the work of compression by approximating isothermal compression. Assuming intake Temp. is 300 degree K (room temp), then adiabatic compression to 5.3 compression ratio will raise the final temperature to 584 K, or 311 degrees C, or 591 degrees F. Intercooling per stage is definitely needed to avoiding melting your compressor. Properly intercooled, the energy used to 8000-psi compression would be well below 10% of total energy in the H2. With isothermal expansion, or, even better, over heating of the H2 during expansion using the engine's waste heat, the energy of compression will be totally recuperated, and then some will be added due to the waste heat of the engine.

If you go the BEV route, then, some large corporations will still make a lot money from selling the batteries, and the utility company will still charge you for electricity, or PV panel makers will still charge you for the hefty price to install the solar panels. Anyway you go, you'll pay! Ain't nothing's free!

There'll be no peak gas if the NG is to be made from waste biomass. And why not?

Correction to above: Need 5 stages of 6:1 compression ratio each to get to near 8000 psi: 6^5 = 7776. Quite a bit of heat will be needed to be removed at intercooling after each stage, but if fewer stages than this and you're thermally overstressing your compressor, plus, your lubricant won't hold up at temp. above 400 degrees F.

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