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CBN at the Hydrogen Conference

Car Buyer’s Notebook attended the hydrogen conference in Washington, DC last week, and provides some hands-on enthusiastic impressions of the Honda FCX.

When I first walked up to the vehicle, I didn’t realize it was running. When my ears ajusted to the light whir of the hydrogen-powered engine, I decided to try and get an audio recording.

Placing a Creative Labs digital voice recorder right on the hood, I let it capture a few seconds of the whisking motor. Or so I thought.

Playing it back, what I actually heard was a recording of me saying, “Is this my ride?” and the Honda guy responding, “Are you Frank?” If you strain to hear the motor, you can, but this explanation is probably a better demonstration than me posting the audio file and you putting your ear next to the computer speaker! [...]

Considering how quiet the FCX is, it is a marvel to consider a city full of hydrogen-powered vehicles, quietly transporting their occupants, and effectively subtracting the internal combustion assault we have all grown accustomed to.

It’s not the hydrogen per se, though, it’s the electric drive.

But on the hydrogen front, CBN has an intriguing idea: make Steve Jobs the Hydrogen Czar.

The hydrogen industry needs a salesman.

At this week’s Hydrogen Conference, the hotel basement was full of supremely technical and esoteric displays that all have something to do with eventually getting hydrogen powered cars on the road.

I felt like I was at a Star Trek convention. Worse, it was like attending a Trek convention when you're the only one that doesn’t know Vulcans have green blood.

Not to take anything away from the geniuses working to fix the membrane hydration dilemma in PEM fuel cells—but the public does not care. [...]

He [Jobs] needs to take the current interest and move it past the point where the national energy security crowd will be able to turn their back on it.

He’d do it by selling it on its own merits—“Hydrogen cars are insanely great!” This form of marketing, where you’re enthralled by the brio of a master salesman, becomes the only raison d’etre required. And it takes on its own life force. Plus, the cars would all be equipped with iPod docks.



Frank Giovinazzi

Michael, thanks for the links to the hydrogen stories! As I told you in an e-mail, going forward I'm going to leave hydrogen coverage to the experts.

But since the event was in town I did what I could -- and yes, it is the electric drive in the FCX that delivers the quiet ride, but of course, you need an environmentally friendly way to fuel it.

There's a lot of coverage on the e-street about converting hybrids to all-electric mode, but as the critics are pointing out, that means using batteries that are recharged with power from the electric grid. And that's not necessarily a win as the nay-sayers-say, because 60% of our electricity is generated by coal burning power plants.

And there's still ocntroversy in the hydorgen world, as it seems some of the production methods aren't the cleanest in this category either. But as I said, I'm leaving it to you!

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