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Honda Begins Production of FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle; New US Fuel Cell Dealership Network

16 June 2008

Fcx1
Installation of the hydrogen storage tank. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has begun production of the new FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle (earlier post), with the first vehicle (US specification) coming off the line. In conjunction with the line-off event, Honda highlighted a number of the new production processes to the media.

Concurrent with the beginning of production, American Honda Motor Co. also announced five of the first customers for the FCX Clarity and provided details of the world’s first fuel cell vehicle dealership network in the United States.

The FCX Clarity is produced at the Honda Automobile New Model Center (Takanezawa-machi, Shioya-gun, Tochigi Prefecture). Honda established a new dedicated fuel cell vehicle assembly line, which includes processes unique to a fuel cell vehicle such as the installation of the fuel cell stack and hydrogen tank.

Fcx2
Fuel cell electrode coating. Click to enlarge.

The fuel cell stack itself is produced at Honda Engineering Co., Ltd. (Haga-machi, Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture). For manufacturing the fuel cells, Honda introduced new automated equipment to ensure quality while enabling mass production of cells, with several hundred cells required for each fuel cell stack.

Through these initiatives, Honda says it is making steady progress in the area of fuel cell vehicle production, in addition to fuel cell and fuel cell vehicle technologies, thereby moving closer to realizing its goal to achieve more widespread use of fuel cell vehicles.

The FCX Clarity utilizes Honda’s V Flow Stack in combination with a new compact and efficient lithium-ion battery pack and a single hydrogen storage tank to power the vehicle’s electric drive motor. The fuel cell stack operates as the vehicle’s main power source. Range is 270 miles.

Lease sales are scheduled to begin in July in the US and this fall in Japan. The combined sales plan for Japan and the US calls for a few dozen units within a year and about 200 units within three years. Additionally, the FCX Clarity will be exhibited at the Environmental Showcase in the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit to begin July 7, as one of a group of advanced environmental technologies.

American Honda said that film producer Ron Yerxa will take delivery of the first FCX Clarity in the US in July. The remaining four early adopters are: author and actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her filmmaker husband Christopher Guest; business owner and car enthusiast Jim Salomon; actress Laura Harris; and Jon Spallino, already the world’s first retail fuel cell vehicle customer, who has been leasing the current generation FCX since 2005. Yerxa, Harris and Spallino attended the event in Japan.

American Honda announced the establishment of the first network of dealers to facilitate the sales and service of fuel cell vehicles. The three Southern California Honda dealers are Power Honda Costa Mesa (Costa Mesa), Honda of Santa Monica (Santa Monica) and Scott Robinson Honda (Torrance).

American Honda is working with its dealer partners to implement processes for fuel cell vehicle lease, delivery and service support for the duration of their leases. American Honda will perform all required work at its specialized fuel cell service facility in the greater Los Angeles area. Upon completion of the work, the dealer will return the vehicle to the customer.

June 16, 2008 in Fuel Cells, Hybrids, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (44) | TrackBack (0)

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Now it would really be something if Honda could show a production ready EV with fast charge capability and a 150 miles range and at least the same performance as a similar sized ICE car.

Then all we needed was some focused politicians and 3 years to spend $200 billion or so to get a fast charge network up in every corner of the all OECD countries. The fuel cell car is too difficult and expensive to get out in mass as we need to, now that it is getting obvious that we are running out adequate global oil and natural gas supplies.

So, where do you fuel it; at the dealership? Why not
just bypass hydrogen altogether and go all EV or
an EV with an ethanol or methanol burning range extender?
I think a small rotary engine would be the perfect
engine to use to recharge the generator.

Why do we need a fast charge station at every corner? The average commute is under forty miles here in North America. There's off-the-shelf technology that could allow most car drivers to be EV drivers in ten years or so.

That off-the-shelf technology? A wall outlet and eight hours, and a gas tank for longer trips.

Ooh, kind of like the Chevy Volt...

Scoot

We need fast charge on every corner because it is inexpensive and quick to establish compared to running wars endlessly over resources such as done in Iraq and because it will solve completely once and for all the problems of emissions and global warming. Moreover, we need it because it helps protecting the democracies of OECD from economic and political extortion from other and non-democratic cultures.

>> Ooh, kind of like the Chevy Volt... <<

Coming at the end of 2010 and the EV's from Nissan at some point as well.

Considering all the issues associated with Hydrogen fuel cell technology (negative overall energy output for generating then burning Hydrogen, fuel cell expense, fuel cell durability, the fact that Hydrogen is more expensive than gasoline and made mainly from Natural Gas and last but not least that our Oil companies want this to have something after gasoline to sell us and no Stations to sell it to you for the most part), I look on with trepidation at how hard Honda is pushing this technology in the spotlight - not to true consumer availability, just the spotlight.

What are they thinking? Or is it just some government subsidy funding them?

I really don't understand the strategy of Honda these day. They were the 1st on hybrid and they lost the game against Toyota, they bet on clean diesel when it seems clear that it won't happen in america, they don't believe on PHEV but bet on fuel cell when the infrastructure of H2 might never happen. On top of this I don't understand why car manufacturer focus on fuel cell when a simple turbocharged ICE run on H2 is as efficient and clean as a fuel cell but without any need for technological breakthrough.

mistery

A warning should go out to all home owners that if Hydrogen cars become a reality then their natural gas bills could sky rocket. If you think what corn ethanol did to food price is bad, just wait for the hydrogen monster to suck all the natural gas dry!

LOL
Who do they think they're fooling.

Come on Lulu - you don't really believe all the tripe about food prices do you???

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/biofuel-_myth-corn-ethanol-global-food-shortages.php

Any new energy technology has a big disadvantage in that the cost of the supporting infrastructure is bourn by the end user. A new technology that can use the existing energy infrastructure will have a huge advantage.

Having said that, battery powered transportation has a huge advantage over hydrogen. And hybrid electric has a moderate advantage over all electric.

I can’t see the business plan that will make hydrogen competitive, unless there is some proprietary customer lock in involved.

Why do automakers like Honda take the effort to find space for hydrogen tanks, but they won't do the same for NG tanks in NG vehicles like the Honda GX? NG or renewable methane has an extant infrastructure and doesn't need fuel cell technology to work.

they just don´t take the turbo ice for burning h2 because so they could not be able to reach zev emission due to burning engine oil like in every conventional engine.. even if it´s not a lot it is not zero

Maybe they bet that within 5 years 1% of the people will have solar roofs that provide enough electricity to charge the battery and to split water to hydrogen as a range extender.
Although not super-efficient, maybe solar cells will be so cheap, or some people will just like the idea, making such a car attractive for 1% of the people in the west.
Even if 99% of the people thinks it is stupid and inefficient, 1% is still a lot of cars.

It is interesting to me that a large heavy industrial company, such as Honda, is developing a vehicle to run on hydrogen while, at the same time, the Japanese government is dumping money into natural gas hydrate research.

I get the feeling they have something up their sleeve. Perhpas an in-situ process that causes the hydrogen to dissociate from the hydrate?

Anyways, just take the body of the FCX drop a normal gasoline I4 ICE in there and it will get 50+mpg. Light and aerodynamic, how hard are those things to implement?

Sasparilla said:
"What are they thinking? Or is it just some government subsidy funding them?"

That has occurred in my mind. I wonder if these players have entered into production stage, knowing they could use these production facilities as levers to obtain Federal subsidies on hydrogen production. Certainly these early facilities will be money losing ventures, but if the subsidies kick in, then that would change the picture entirely.

The subsidy angle makes sense to me, because the Corn lobby has their ethanol subsidies. The Big Oil lobby probably want their subsidies on hydrogen as well.

apparently this website should be called "evcarcongress.com". why bash on the fuel cells? electric motors are the technology of the past. fuel cells are the technology of the future!
our technology and r&d dollars should be going towards cost-effective (and energy-positive) electrolysis.
you all can feel free to bash honda, but this is a wonderful piece of technology that heralds a new approach to the automobile. and it doesn't need to be plugged into a coal-socket (which is what ev's are fueled from, which all the people here seem to forget) for power.
and i think subsidies for hydrogen are not a bad idea at first; it will allow economies of scale to grow and the nascent market to take hold. they can be phased out based on production levels (the govt does not need to subsidize a mature, positive market cough cough ethanol)

marc - "electric motors are the technology of the past. fuel cells are the technology of the future!"

Before anyone else does it I would like to point out to you that Fuel Cell cars are electric cars with a chemical battery - hydrogen. Consider that almost everything else for increased efficiency, lower weight and less complexity has gone solid state. The final holdout in electronics was the cathode ray tube used in monitors and TVs. It is very fast being phased out in favour of LCD and plasma flat screens.

A battery electric car is an electric car with a solid state battery. Why would you think a messy chemical battery, needing 10 000psi tanks, a fragile converter (the fuel cell) and all the pumps etc that are required, is superior to a solid state battery.

Dont mind them they are no different then the people who hate solar because ...hippies... like it. The dont like it becayse oil likes it.

The cars are moving along nucely. They look solid and have the range and power needed and the new cells have the lifespan needed or at least are close enough.

In ten years they should have a 12k mayve even 5k fuel cell that lasts and gives solid 100 plus miles per kilo in many cars... And if current plans are right h2 should be 3-4 bucks a kilo.

In 20 tears who knows. I think its a solid bet alot of fuel cells are gona be made...

marc and wintermane,
Guys, I don't want to get into abusive arguments and bashing others so I'm just going to ask you to do a little reading and find out where this hydrogen is going to come from and how much energy it takes to produce it vs. what is usable at the end point (car). The whole thing is so terribly inefficient, wasteful that it's silly.
The money and time required to build an infrastructure to support it is even worse. By the time any of that get's remotely ready for prime time, battery tech will already be so mature that you can go 300 miles on a 200 lb battery with a cost of about $2000 per battery. Look at the trends in battery development....that will happen sometime around 2014.
At that point, why would you even bother to develop a hydrogen infrastructure. It doesn't make economic sense and is not even needed by then. The real problem is that it just diverts resources and confuses people when we need to be moving to something quickly.

When I first looked at this article, I read the car's name as "Charity". As in Honda is basically giving them away. I think there is something mystical about a car with a tailpipe that produces "...only water!" At least as long as you pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, the one with the large carbon footprint. But people are stupid so this is a great greenwashing investment. I love the Hollywood angle. GM smarter than Honda? Who'da thunk?

Highly unlikely fuel cells will play a significant role in mass produced vehicle for several reasons in near future (5-10 yrs).
They may have its place in some niche markets, like ultra-silent submarines and some other specific applications.
Reasons for such opinion:
1. All fuel cells use PLATINUM as a catalyst. Platinum supply (and reserves in the ground) is very limited, the metal is very expensive, and a mass adoption of fuel cells (say in case of abundance of H2 or other suitable fuel) for road-going cars would increase platinum demand hundred-fold (if not more), price would sky-rocket, and that would kill the project before it even got a chance to take off.
There are attempts to replace platinum with other materials, but results have been disapponting.

2. Hydrogen supply: Currently H2 can be produced from a) natural gas, b) using electricity to split water, and possibly (?) c) somehow in nuclear reactors, as a by product, or main product (not sure - in the future they may find a way to split water using extreme heat plus something else in nuclear reactors)
Reasons against any of these 3 methods:
a) Nat gas is probably more efficient if used for (home) heating, or in ICE's, as every conversion reduces efficiency
b) Using water electrolysis - inefficient. Much better use the same electricity to charge high capacity batteries (that are expected to be improved significantly in coming years, without need to use platinum or other rare and expensive elements).
Plus the transportation of electricity to distances is far cheaper than H2 transportation in expensive tanks. And the infrastructure is already in place.
c) This actually may work, but then it's not considered a green energy, only nuclear energy proponents would like it, most other wouldn't. And that technology doesn't even exist yet. The cost of hydrogen infrastructure remains.

3. Fuel (ie H2) for fuel cells needs to be produced from some other source which involves an extra operation and energy loss in the process.
It's always better to have as fewer as possible conversions, in the end the most direct methods almost always prevail over time - history teaches us that. Just recall those technologies that were marketed with a word 'direct' in name, like: "Direct injection", "Direct frequency synthesis", "Direct Drive" etc.

Given all this, fuel cells are far from being ready (and economical) to be used on a large scale, now or in near future. High capacity batteries are far more promissing in near term.
There may be some scientific breakthrough that will make FCs widely available, currently the technology is simply inferior for almost any mass application.

BTW does anybody know the approximate price of this FC Honda model, or some estimates for similar cars?

MG, I agree with you. Let's summarize :
- great technical achievement ? YES
- only present way to make large range electric cars ? YES
- efficient and economically doable way of mass transportation ? NO

Ahhhh... Nothing better than a good fuel cell argument, urrrh debate in the morning.

Haven't you all ever wondered that if one car company was making FCV's, or even 2 or 3 companies, this could be concluded as just a science fad. But just about every car company, that's EVERY car company, has some sort of FCV project going. The argument that "they are just doing it because they get gov't susidies" doesn't pass very well with me. Don't you think if they saw a better program to throw gov't money at, they would? These are reputable companies such as Honda and Toyota (who can do no wrong) that are making the most news lately with FCV's too. Do they possibly know something the rest of us don't? Someone needs to reconcile that for me.

Schmeltz, Honda and Toyota are publicly traded companies, just like Ford and GM are. However, Honda and Toyota are doing better financially than GM or Ford.

If you have the money to spare, you can waste it, especially if it buys you greenwashing points and is partially funded by the government.

Ford and GM are investing in small cars, solid state hybrids, and flex-fuel vehicles. All three of which have VIABLE MARKETS.

Do they possibly know something the rest of us don't?

I hear they have a secret process to convert the whining of battery bigots into hydrogen. This energy source is inexhaustible, renewable, and the only byproduct is lots of hot air.

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