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Free Press Thumbs Up Review on Honda FCX

The Detroit Free Press’ Mark Phelan gives a three-day hands-on driving review of the Honda FCX—the first such unsupervised driving review of a fuel cell vehicle from any automaker.

I don’t know if the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Honda FCX I drove for a weekend is the wave of the future, but Lord, I hope so.

There's something inspirational about driving nearly 120 miles and producing no noxious emissions.

The biggest environmental hazard I encountered was the concern that I'd slip and fall when the water froze on my driveway. [...]

The FCX performed brilliantly, which is to say: just like a conventional car. Turn the key, it starts. Depress the accelerator and it goes.

The electric motor produces 107 horsepower and a muscular 201 pound-feet of torque. That’s more torque than a sporty V6-powered Volkswagen Golf GTi, giving the FCX enough oomph that I inadvertently squealed its all-season Yokohama tires several times on Woodward Avenue. [...]

As exalting as driving the FCX was, the car also comes equipped with an overwhelming irony: The car might run on the most plentiful element in the universe, but I had an eye glued to the fuel gauge all weekend because I was afraid I’d run out.

It’s worth reading in its entirety.

As Car Buyer’s Notebook points out, reviews like this (“it really is like a normal car, and better”) are important in building broader-based consumer support.


Mikhail Capone

Glad that the first impression is positive (and I hope there's more to come), because when they are negative they can be very hard to shake off (see diesel in north-america).

Richard Burton

Giddy review, but...totally ignores environmental cost of producing the hydrogen to run it in a zero emissions mode. Try nuclear or coal to run the power plants to break out the hydrogen if Bush has his way. We need to be looking at the big picture -ie the total cost to produce, use, and dispose of vehicles in assessing their true environmental impacts. Nice that it performs so nice tho.

Mikhail Capone

Of course we must also work on getting our energy from clean sources (wind, solar, geothermal, wave). That's the other necessity for a clean system.


Very true, Richard. We absolutely need to have the complete lifecycle energy and emissions costs in mind and under discussion (fuel production, mfr, disposal)—exactly as you point out.

The tone of the review fits in well with the “no comprise” (have both performance and efficiency) positioning that automakers are giving most of the new hybrids...and ultimately, that’s probably not going to work. There are the larger issues with which to deal.

But I do think the review is a positive, albeit small step, in moving a broader-based set of carbuyers to have that dialog. Some segments move faster than others. :-)

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