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December 2006

December 31, 2006

Nissan To Build Plant for Subcompacts in India

Nikkei. Nissan Motor will build a factory in India that will start operations in the latter half of 2009 with an annual output capacity of around 200,000 units, The Nikkei learned Sunday.

Construction on the facility will begin this year, with an investment of ¥50-60 billion (US$420-504 million). The factory will produce 1-liter-class subcompacts. About 30% of the vehicles will be sold in India and the other 70% exported to Europe and other markets, according to the report.

Nissan will gradually expand the types of models produced from the plant, with total output rising to about 400,000 units in the future.

Top Nissan shareholder Renault SA has already drawn up plans to jointly produce vehicles with midsize Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. Although Nissan plans to invest in the Renault-Mahindra joint venture, the Japanese automaker will build its own factory as it bets on the Indian market’s growth potential and promising outlook as a production base.

In a bid to increase local procurement right away to boost cost-competitiveness, Nissan is asking parts manufacturers to bring their production to India as well.

Nissan currently exports vehicles to India from Japan, selling about 200 units a year. After building its auto factory there, the company will work on developing a dealership network and eventually open about 100 branches in major urban areas by 2010 or so.

December 31, 2006 in Fuel Efficiency, India | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Angola Joins OPEC

Angola’s oil concessions. Click to enlarge. Source: Sonangol.

At the OPEC meeting in Abuja, Nigeria earlier in December, the assembled members unanimously admitted the Republic of Angola—sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest oil producer behind Nigeria—as the twelfth full member of the organization, effective 1 January 2007.

The Conference also decided to reduce OPEC production by a further 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), effective 1 February 2007, “in order to balance supply and demand.”

OPEC’s view is that market fundamentals indicate a more than ample crude supply, high stock levels and increasing spare capacity. Although the global economy is forecast to continue to grow, economic growth is expected to slow down in 2007. Moreover, while world oil demand is estimated to increase by 1.3 million bpd in 2007, the Conference observed that this is likely to be more than offset by a projected increase of 1.8 million bpd in non-OPEC supply, its highest rise since 1984.

Decrease of production levels by OPEC Member Countries
(with the exception of Iraq)
in barrels per day
MemberDecrease per Doha Agreement
(Eff. 1 Nov. 06)
Additional decrease per Abuja Agreement
(Eff. 1 Feb. 07)
Total decrease (bpd)
Algeria 59,000 25,000 84,000
Indonesia 39,000 16,000 55,000
Iran 176,000 73,000 249,000
Kuwait 100,000 42,000 142,000
Libya 72,000 30,000 102,000
Nigeria 100,000 42,000 142,000
Qatar 35,000 15,000 50,000
Saudi Arabia 380,000 158,000 538,000
UAE 101,000 42,000 143,000
Venezuela 138,000 57,000 195,000
Total 1,200,000 500,000 1,700,000

With an ongoing oil boom, Angola’s economy has grown rapidly over the last few years. Approximately 90 percent of government revenues come from the sale of oil. In 2005, Angola’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate was 14.4 percent, and the forecast GDP growth rate for 2006 is 14.6 percent, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Although economic growth is strong, Angola remains one of the poorest countries on the African continent.

Proven oil reserves in Angola have tripled in the last seven years. The majority of Angolan oil is medium to light crude (30° – 40° API) with a low sulfur content (0.12% - 0.14%)—valued for the production of gasoline.

Angolan oil production and consumption. Click to enlarge. Source; EIA.

Angola’s crude oil production has more than quadrupled over the past two decades. In 1986, crude oil production averaged 280,000 barrels per day (bpd), while production in 2005 averaged 1.25 million bpd, according to the EIA. The entry into operation of new deep-water production sites in 2008 will boost production to 2 million bpd, according to estimates.

China has become quite involved in the Angolan oil sector. Earlier in 2006, the two countries signed 9 cooperation agreements. The agreements primarily include development of Angola’s oil and gas resources, but also cover general infrastructure development and financial aid. Angola is already China’s second largest trading partner in Africa.

In May, Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol and China’s Sinopec launched a US$2.2 billion joint bid for deep-water blocks; these new blocks have estimated reserves of 3 billion barrels and 1.5 billion barrels respectively.

Angola presently is China’s largest African supplier of crude oil, and third-largest supplier globally (behind Saudi Arabia and Iran). The new blocks are likely to move Angola from the position of third-largest oil supplier to China to that of number two on a long-term basis.


December 31, 2006 in Oil | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ford to Introduce E85 Muscle Car Concept at Detroit Show

E85 muscle car: the Interceptor.

Ford will introduce a Mustang-based E85 concept muscle car at the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The Ford Interceptor uses a Ford Racing 5.0-liter V-8 “Cammer” engine running on E85 (85% ethanol blend). The 4-valve, dual overhead cam (DOHC) engine produces more than 400 hp (298 kW), and powered the Mustang FR500C to the 2005 Grand-Am Cup Championship in its first year of competition.

The basic 5.0-liter Cammer crate engine.

This is an upgraded variant of the 4.6-liter engine under the hood of the current production Mustang GT. The Interceptor features a traditional rear-wheel drive proportion that includes a short front overhang, long rear overhang and extended dash-to-axle ratio.

For safety, the Interceptor concept incorporates Ford’s patented four-point “belt and suspenders” safety belt design in all four seats and inflatable seat belts in the rear. Ford Motor Company is researching these two potential safety belt technologies as possible ways to further reduce injury risk in vehicle crashes.

Our customer target for this powerful masculine sedan was a man with a family. He’s essentially a good guy, but a bit mischievous. He loves power and performance. But ultimately, he’s responsible. When he has his family on board, he values new safety technology as well as a powerful engine that runs on E-85 ethanol.

—Peter Horbury, executive director—Design, The Americas

December 31, 2006 in Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (40) | TrackBack

December 30, 2006

German Transportation Program for EU Council Presidency Focused on Safety, Fuels and Emissions; Transport Minister Rejects Speed Limits

The EU adds two new members (Bulgaria and Romania) in 2007, for a total of 27 countries. Click to enlarge.

Germany takes leadership of the Group of Eight and the 6-month European Union Council Presidency in 2007. German Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Wolfgang Tiefensee, has presented his program for the German EU, which is focused on safety, fuels and emissions.

However, the Minister is opposed to implementing a speed limit in Germany. “...A general speed limit on open stretches of road does not make sense,” he said in response to the urging for such limits as a means of reduction of fuel consumption and emissions.

On the future energy and resource security front, Tiefensee wants to achieve clear European positions during the six months ahead in a number of areas.

In this context, I will champion a European fuel strategy, and would like to push ahead with proposals on innovative drivetrain technologies and alternative fuels and discuss the issue of energy efficiency.

—Minister Tiefensee

The Minister said he will also seek a coordinated position with the other EU Member States on the inclusion of aviation in emissions trading, and to include all international and domestic flights to and from the EU in the emissions trading scheme. (Earlier post.)

However, Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) says that much more needs to be done lest Germany and the EU miss their greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. A speed limit is part of that. In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung, Andreas Troge, president of the Umweltbundesamt, said:

With a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour the carbon dioxide output can be reduced by ten to thirty per cent.

Although Germany’s high-speed highways have a recommended speed of 130 kph (80 mph), drivers travel as fast as they like.

PROPSER’s view of ISA systems. Click to enlarge.

Assuming speed limits are in effect, however, enforcement remains an issue. One technological solution under investigation in Europe is Intelligent Speed Adaptation—ISA. An ISA system is one that aids the driver or rider in maintaining road speeds compliant with relevant local statutory or desirable speed limits.

The EU last year wrapped up the PROPSER research project—Project for Research On Speed adaptation Policies on European Roads—which focused primarily on ISA mechanisms as a tool for speed management to increase safety.

PROSPER developed an initial taxonomy for ISA solutions. The proposed categories are:

  1. Provision of in-vehicle information of current posted speed limit. The driver controls the road speed.

  2. Provision of in-vehicle information of current posted speed-limit. Speed limit data can be passed to the vehicle to set a limiting function for road speed.

  3. Provision of in-vehicle information of current posted speed limit. Speed limit data is always passed to the vehicle to set a limiting function for road speed.

  4. Provision of in-vehicle information of current posted speed-limit, which is used as a default as a speed limiting value by the vehicle.

  5. Provision of in-vehicle information of current posted speed limit. The driver controls vehicle road speed, but the system records data of over-speed events.

PROSPER also proposed various subcategories to represent variations in those basic ISA approaches.

Once the insfrastructure is in place to locate the vehicle, pick up data on speed limits (location and values), integrate the vehicle location and speed limit value and process the data, ISA implementation requires some type of driver or vehicle interface to affect the speed of the vehicle.

PROSPER tested two types of interface systems: a display, light and beep-sound; and a display and active intervention in the form of counterforce in the accelerator pedal or a dead throttle (speed limiter).

The researchers concluded that display plus active counterforce has a larger effect than just the display. They also found that using the dead throttle is more effective than the high-counterforce pedal. A low-counterforce pedal was the least effective. A vibrating gas pedal is somewhere between the high-force pedal and the low force pedal.

The team also concluded that:

Probably it is inherent to ISA that the more effective the system, the more negative the attitudes towards the system are.


December 30, 2006 in Emissions, Europe, Fuel Efficiency, Policy | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Pakistani Busmakers Cutting CNG Bus Prices by 15%

Gulf Times. Pakistani busmakers are cutting the prices of their locally produced and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses by 15% following the government’s decision early in December to zero-rate sales tax on the import and supply of all buses which can carry 40 or more passengers, including CNG buses.

As part of the same action on 6 December, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet also zero-rated the sales tax on purpose-built taxis and abolished the 5% customs duty on the import of liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

Mohamed Irfan Shaikh, Director Marketing and Sales, Hinopak Motors Limited (HML), said that bus sales had been restricted to government’s institutional buying while the share of commercial sales had been hovering at 15-20% of total sales which was alarming for local industry.

Irfan said that the arrival of 3,000 used buses from Japan and Singapore in 2006 had dealt a crippling blow to the local sales while the total bus demand of one year is just 800-1,000 units.

...On the other hand, locally-produced CNG buses have also been facing problems as investors have not lifted a single unit yet.

“The operational cost is very high and it can be curtailed, if the government provides subsidy on gas prices,” [Irfan] said.

December 30, 2006 in Natural Gas, Other Asia | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 29, 2006

Enova Systems Posts Larger 3Q Loss on Increased Operational Costs

Enova Systems reported a third-quarter loss of US$1.641 million—a doubling of its US$0.782 million loss in Q3 2005. The company, which develops and manufactures electric, hybrid and fuel-cell drive systems and management systems, attributed the increased costs to expanding product and marketing initiatives.

Net revenues dropped to US$312,000 for the third quarter, down from US$857,000 for the same period in 2005. Revenues in the first quarter and nine months of 2006 derived mainly from production type contracts with Hyundai Motor Corporation and the State of Hawaii. Enova attributed the decrease in revenues in the first nine months of 2006 to contracts that were completed or near completion in 2005.

Enova has been awarded contracts with, but have not yet recognized revenues from, IC Corp. for nineteen hybrid-electric school buses, Phoenix Motor Car for ten sport utility trucks and Ford Motor Company for four High Voltage Energy Converters (HVEC).

At the same time, internal research, development and engineering expenses increased in the three and nine months ended September 30, 2006 to $297,000 and $929,000 as compared with $197,000 and $592,000 respectively, for the same period in 2005.

Enova continues to develop several new products such as its post transmission parallel hybrid drive system and enhancements to our diesel generator set which account for a majority of the increase during the first quarter and nine months of 2006 when compared to the same period in 2005.

The company also has large expectations for its work in China.

We also anticipate continuing our work with Tsinghua University of China, and their fuel cell bus development program. We believe that China intends to use hybrid-electric buses to shuttle athletes and guests at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2010 World’s Expo in Shanghai and that it is seeking up to one thousand full-size hybrid-electric buses to support these global events.

—Anthony Rawlinson, Chairman

December 29, 2006 in Fuel Cells, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

US Ethanol Industry Has a 4.9 Billion Gallon Year; Consumption Beats RFS Standard by 1 Billion Gallons

Iowa’s ethanol output, 1978-2006. Click to enlarge.

US ethanol production in October tied the all-time high set in September 2006 of 333,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The US ethanol industry was averaging 310,000 bpd of production through October, an annualized volume of 4.75 billion gallons. Industry estimates show ethanol production reaching 4.9 billion gallons for the year, an increase of more than 25% from 2005, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

Demand for ethanol also soared in 2006. October demand was 391,000 bpd, up from 278,000 bpd in 2005. For the year, demand has averaged 339,000 bpd or more than 4.3 billion gallons. Total demand for 2006 will greatly exceed 5 billion gallons, more than one billion gallons over the requirement of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

The state of Iowa alone accounted for almost 31% of that output, with a record 1.5 billion gallon produced in 2006, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. That level of output represents a 36% increase from the prior record of 1.1 billion gallons, set in 2005.

Since 2002, Iowa’s ethanol output has grown an average 36% per year, increasing 3.4 times from 440 million gallons.

Iowa ethanol plants consumed more than 550 million bushels of corn in 2006—about 25% of the state’s total corn harvest.

Iowa has more ethanol plants than any other state, including 16 new ethanol plants and five major expansions under construction.

December 29, 2006 in Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

New Mexico Governor Signs Executive Order on Climate Change Action

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has signed an executive order (2006-69) that specifies greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies to address climate change in New Mexico.

The order creates a state government implementation team tasked with ensuring policies from the order are carried out. These policies include:

  • Creating a market-based greenhouse gas emissions registry and reduction program;

  • Advancing carbon capture and sequestration technology;

  • Mandating that state vehicles use mainly clean, renewable fuels;

  • Proposing a one-time tax credit of up to 40% for the purchase, construction or retrofitting of alternative fuel filling stations;

  • Promoting the use of manure from the dairy industry in power generation;

  • Developing an education and outreach program on green buildings for those private sector builders; and

  • Creating new procurement rules that ensure state government offices have energy efficient appliances.

Climate change is the major environmental issue of our time. Nothing poses a bigger threat to our water, our livelihood and our quality of life than a warming climate. Today I am taking the first step toward implementing as many of these recommendations as are possible, feasible and effective.

—Governor Richardson

The government implementation team, which will make recommendations to the state’s Clean Energy Development Council, includes representatives from the state agencies of the Environment Department, Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department, New Mexico Department of Transportation, Regulations and Licensing Department, Department of Finance and Administration, Department of Taxation and Revenue, the General Services Department, Department of Agriculture, Office of the State Engineer and Office of the Governor. The team will also consult with representatives from the Public Regulation Commission.

Governor Richardson previously endorsed seeking regulations to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions of new cars and trucks sold in New Mexico and more than quadrupling New Mexico’s renewable energy use by mandating that 15 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2015 and working with utilities to achieve a 25 percent of that electricity by 2020. This year, New Mexico became the first state to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, a greenhouse gas emission reduction and trading program.

During his news conference, the Governor said that he’s considering a proposal to require industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with legislation similar to a recently enacted law in California that limits greenhouse gas emissions by power plants, oil refineries and other industries.

The California legislation calls for a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020. Richardson said he hasn’t made a decision yet on whether such a measure will be part of his agenda for the upcoming Legislature, which convenes Jan. 16 for a 60-day session, according to the Albuquerque Tribune.

December 29, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Munich Re: Weather-Related Catastrophes Will Increase with Rising Loss Potentials

Cat 5 Cyclone Larry (at right) at landfall with winds of 180 mph. Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Although the insurance industry was largely spared major losses from natural catastrophes in 2006, unlike in the previous two years, when hurricanes such as Katrina caused record losses, Munich Re Group’s outlook is that weather-related catastrophes—exacerbated by global warming among other factors—will increase.

Economic losses up to the end of December totalled US$45 billion, around one-fifth of the previous year’s figure of US$219 billion. Insured losses amounted to US$15 billion, less than one-sixth of the total in 2005 (US$99 billion). Munich Re ascribes this “relatively positive” outcome to the absence of major hurricanes in the North Atlantic.

The fact nevertheless remains that, in the longer term, the number of severe weather-related natural catastrophes is set to increase due, among other things, to global warming. Combined with further increasing concentrations of values in exposed areas, this means continually rising loss potentials. Even apparently contradictory events in Europe, such as the huge snow-pressure losses at the beginning of 2006 and the extremely warm start to this winter, with the potential for severe winter storms, fit into this pattern.

—Dr. Torsten Jeworrek, member of Munich Re’s Board of Management

Some of the exceptional natural catastrophes in 2006 cited by Munich Re are:

  • January to March: Record snow-pressure losses in Austria, hundreds die amid freezing temperatures in Eastern Europe.

  • 20 March: Warning signs for Australia; strongest cyclone on record causes insured losses of US$400 million in sparsely populated area.

  • 27 May: Earthquake on Java results in unexpectedly great destruction, showing the vulnerability of Southeast Asian conurbations. More than 5,000 lose their lives.

  • 28 June: US$300 million in insured losses following a severe hailstorm in the Black Forest region.

  • Billion-dollar losses due to tornadoes in the United States; mini-tornadoes in London, Hamburg and Nuremberg demonstrate the loss potentials in big cities — also in Europe.

The North Atlantic hurricane season brought far fewer storms this year; the insurance industry sustained its lowest losses since 2000. Ultimately, insured losses due to tropical cyclones amounted to US$ 250m compared with some US$87 billion from last year’s unparalleled hurricane series.

Only three tropical cyclones caused substantial losses in 2006, as against the previous year’s 17. Exceptional meteorological factors accounted for the lower level of hurricane activity. Dust particles blown from the Sahara to the area where hurricanes develop absorbed solar radiation, warming and dehumidifying the layer of air at medium altitude. This hindered the formation of cyclones, particularly in August. In October, the El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific had a curbing effect. On the other hand, in September, prior to this El Niño effect, there were four hurricanes. Many storms were steered away into the Atlantic without reaching the mainland.

High ocean temperatures, up to one degree above the long-term average, had been expected to increase the number of cyclones. According to World Meteorological Organization estimates, 2006 was the sixth-warmest year ever recorded in terms of air temperature, and it was even the fourth warmest in the northern hemisphere. This means that both globally and for the northern hemisphere, the ten warmest years on record occurred during the period 1995 — 2006.

No one seriously disputes climate change any more. In the long term, it will be a factor which increases the number of severe natural catastrophes.

—Prof. Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research

Due to the prolonged cyclical warm phase in the North Atlantic, which is reinforced by global warming, Munich Re believes that in the next one to two decades the number of hurricanes will exceed the mean for the years 1950–2006 (annual average: ten named cyclones, six of hurricane force).

Cyclones. In Asia, cyclones caused worse destruction than in the previous year, with insured losses of US$1.5 billion and economic losses of US$15 billion. By far the most devastating tropical storm was Typhoon Shanshan, which swept across Japan and Korea between 16 and 19 September with wind speeds of up to 145 kilometers per hour, causing insured losses of US$1.2 billion.

Cyclone Larry, which struck the sparsely populated north Queensland coast on 20 March with wind speeds of up to 290 kilometers per hour, is believed to be a sign of things to come: it was the most severe tropical storm ever recorded in northern Australia. In some places, practically every building suffered damage. It was only thanks to the region’s relatively sparse population that the economic loss did not exceed US$1.1 billion and the insured loss totalled US$400 million. If the storm had struck a major city such as Brisbane, the loss would have been much higher.

Worldwide, some 18,000 people died in 2006 as a result of natural events such as earthquakes, storms or floods—in the previous year, more than 100,000 lost their lives, primarily in the devastating earthquake that hit Pakistan and India on 8 October 2005.

Indonesian earthquake. In 2006, the natural catastrophe which caused the greatest number of deaths was again an earthquake. On 27 May, a force 6.3 quake shook the densely populated but economically less developed region around the city of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java. According to official statistics, 5,750 people were killed and about a million rendered homeless in a matter of seconds. 154,000 houses were destroyed and the economic loss totalled US$ 3.1 billion.

Both the extent of the damage and the evident vulnerability of relatively new buildings such as shopping centres and hotels, despite adequate building regulations, are grounds for concern—particularly since this was only a medium-strength earthquake.

Although the insured loss amounted to only US$35 million (around 1% of the overall loss), it would have been higher had it not been for the low insurance density. An earthquake on that scale causing similar destruction in the equally earthquake-prone region around the capital Djakarta, where 40% of Indonesia’s entire insured values are concentrated, would be more devastating in both human and insurance terms. Munich Re will unveil a new earthquake risk model for the region in spring 2007, which will incorporate the latest findings from the area.

Indian floods. Further major flood losses for the Indian insurance industry illustrate the risks that also accompany rising concentrations of values in emerging markets. Insured losses in August, mainly incurred in the western Indian state of Gujarat, amounted to some US$350 million. In the previous year, the extreme monsoon rains had caused an insured loss of some three-quarters of a billion US dollars to the region around the city of Mumbai in the neighboring state of Maharashtra—the most expensive natural catastrophe that India’s growing insurance industry had ever faced.

European snow. In Europe, the natural event that caused the year’s greatest impact was an exceptionally snowy winter. From November 2005, huge amounts of snow fell over many parts of central Europe. In the months that followed, heavy layers of snow accumulated on buildings as many places experienced further snowfalls alternating with only short thaws. In southern Germany, Austria and parts of Eastern Europe, many roofs collapsed under the enormous weight, and thousands of helpers desperately shovelled snow from the roofs of houses and other buildings. 15 people were killed when an ice rink collapsed in Bad Reichenhall (southern Germany) on 2 January, although this was also significantly due to technical defects.

In Austria, snow pressure accounted for almost US$400 million in insured losses—a very large loss for the Austrian insurance industry, and the equivalent of nearly ten per cent of the annual property insurance premium income.

Both Europe’s exceptionally snowy winter conditions in 2005 and the warm start to the 2006 winter are in keeping with the phenomenon of climate change. Apart from the trend towards warmer winters, there is also likely to be an increase in weather extremes with a greater range of variation. In Germany, the largest individual loss was caused by a hailstorm which hit the Black Forest region on 28 and 29 June, causing an insured loss in the order of US$300 million.

Tornadoes. The vulnerability and loss potentials of conurbations in particular were also illustrated by a number of tornado events in Europe. Insured losses were not unduly high, amounting to several millions. Nonetheless, the tornadoes had reached force two on the five-point Fujita Scale, with wind speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour.

Tornadoes are usually short-lived; in the cases mentioned, they cut a swathe of devastation a few hundred metres long in residential areas. The damage caused indicates the enormous loss potential, especially in conurbations. Prof. Höppe: “They occur the world over, spawned by severe thunderstorms, and are well nigh impossible to forecast.

During the Christmas period, tornadoes caused further losses in Florida—a relatively uncommon event for this time of year. One tornado struck just 60 kilometers from Orlando with its Disney World theme park. Munich Re has repeatedly drawn attention to the risks that accompany concentrations of values under the rubric “Megacities — Megarisks”.

Munich Re believes the rising loss potential from natural catastrophes will substantially increase demand for reinsurance in the longer term.

We regard the price increases that followed the hurricane year 2005 as enduring. Constant improvements in modelling the growing catastrophe risks, combined with skilful risk management, will enable us to provide cover at prices, terms and conditions commensurate with the risks.

—Dr. Torsten Jeworrek

December 29, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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

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

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