No one single vehicle technology is the answer to a cleaner transportation, so along with more efficient internal combustion engines and battery-based pure electric and hybrid systems, many manufacturers offer fuel-cell vehicles. Toyota’s Mirai was released recently, and now we have Honda’s effort, which differs in a few key areas, including not being horrifyingly ugly. Actually, the FCV looks pretty good.
It’s also a little more advanced than Honda’s FCX Clarity, a vehicle that was provided on a lease-only basis to Californian customers as a sort of beta-testing for real-world performance. The FCV has a fuel-cell stack that’s about a third smaller than the FCX’s power-generator, and the new unit is also two-thirds more dense. The entire stack fits under the hood of the FCV, freeing up space for passengers and cargo. You know, like a normal car.
Fuel-cell vehicles take their power from converting hydrogen gas and oxygen to water, a process that produces only water as a byproduct. The electrons given off in the reaction provide electric power that can be harnessed easily and used to run a motor. All you need do is get the hydrogen into the car.
Therein lies the problem. The Hindenburg-sized problem. While the FCV has a useful range of 480 km (300 miles) and can be refilled in just three minutes, creating, transporting, and storing the hydrogen gas is a bit tricky. The infrastructure required isn’t yet in place, except in certain areas.
But again, this isn’t intended to be an automotive panacea, just one potential solution that would work well in urban areas, and along a route where hydrogen stations exist.
Along with the FCV, Honda also announced that new hybrid applications, including a new plug-in vehicle, and a new all-electric car were planned for release by 2018. All for the good, but it was Honda’s announcement that turbocharged powertrains were coming to their mainstream products that really piqued interest. Finally a little turbo torque to go with that high-revving VTEC punch.