Honda Backs Hydrogen as US Backs Electric Cars Mendo Coast Current

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Backs Hydrogen as US Backs Cars

August 12, 2009 by

ALAN OHNSMAN and MAKIKO Bloomberg, August 12, 2009

Motor Co. is backing hydrogen for the cars of the future, a stance at with the Obama administration’s to drop automotive fuel-cell in favor of battery-run vehicles.

cars will become said Takashi Moriya, of Tokyo-based Honda’s group the technology. “We’re positioning it as the zero-emission car.”

Honda, the carmaker leasing fuel-cell to individuals, opened a production last year in Tochigi to make 200 FCX Clarity sedans. The Department sought to eliminate funding and instead lend billion to Nissan Motor Co. and million to Tesla Motors to build electric cars, and $2.4 billion in grants to battery makers.

“Honda has a propensity to think long term,” said Ed an analyst at AutoPacific Inc. in California. “It’s also of the company culture that if made a decision they is correct, they’ll really with it.”

Honda alone. Toyota Motor Daimler AG, General Motors and Hyundai Motor Co. say hydrogen, the most abundant element, is the few options to replace oil as a low-carbon fuel.

U.S. Energy Steven Chu said in May his department “be moving away” from as it’s unlikely the U.S. can to the fuel even after 20 Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn predicts cars may grab 10% of global sales by 2020.

Honda announced plans for a battery-electric

Fuel Costs

Hydrogen, mainly for industrial use from gas, costs about $5 to $10 per for vehicles in California, more double an equivalent amount of Fuel-cell cars also at least double the efficiency of models, with Clarity 60 miles per kilogram.

The Energy estimates future prices for will fall to $2 to $3 a kilogram, said on Aug. 6.

The fuel can be made from solar and power and even human

Toyota President Akio said Aug. 5 his company consumer sales of fuel-cell within six years. Toyota, Honda, is making “exponential with the technology, Justin manager of Toyota’s U.S. powertrain program, said in an

Battery cars are further in the market. Mitsubishi Motors started selling the i-MiEV month. Tesla sells the Roadster and Nissan unveiled its Leaf this month, sales to start in Japan and the next year.

Fueling Time

Honda hydrogen vehicles match the style drivers are used to: up in minutes at a service station. Leaf recharges fully in 30 with a fast-charger, or up to 16 hours on a outlet, said Tetsuro senior manager of Nissan’s test group.

A budget slowed plans for more stations in California, home to the fleet of cars using the At the federal level, Chu sought million in May for battery and advanced autos in the 2010 budget, up Hydrogen funds were cut 60% to $68 slashing money that have gone to transportation

The Clarity is available in the U.S. in Los Angeles, where drivers can use as as 16 hydrogen stations. The 5-passenger car has a top of 100 miles an hour and goes 240 (386 kilometers), more double the 100-mile range of compact electric car. July, Honda leased to 10 drivers for $600 a month.

Filling Stations

The need for a of hydrogen filling stations is a


“We cannot do infrastructure alone,” Moriya. “We’ve been the cars on our own without government

The Senate and House voted in to restore the funds. President Obama must approve the budget.

Honda and Toyota have to reduce production to win over consumers. Fuel need platinum a precious that costs more $1,200 an ounce and current is half that of gasoline according to Moriya.

Honda plans to offer cars at prices comparable to gasoline autos by 2020, from a company estimate Clarity’s 2005 hand-built cost about $1 million. wouldn’t discuss the Clarity’s

Expensive Platinum

Honda in Tochigi are trying to trim For 13 months, technicians have in a semiconductor-style clean- room, rolls of plastic film for membranes. Nearby, a press stainless-steel plates that grip the material.

Hundreds of the are then sealed in a metal forming the fuel-cell stack.

hydrogen push has been by plunging sales in the U.S. its market. Last quarter, at Japan’s second-largest carmaker 96% to 7.5 billion yen ($79 million). Its budget is 515 billion yen this year, down 8.5%.

for fuel cells were cut and spending shifted to other Moriya said, without

Honda probably spends “a few of billions of yen” a year on cells, said analyst Kato at Tokai Tokyo Center in Nagoya.

“Maybe, maybe, fuel cells be the future,” said Edwin who helps manage about $3 at Atlantis Investment Research in “And if you’re not in there, you have a big disadvantage.”

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