Automakers Ready to Launch Hydrogen Cars

FCEV
FCEV
THE HONDA CLARITY FCEV: Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota recently debuted their zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles at auto shows in Los Angeles and Tokyo. The automakers hope to have a “substantial number” of vehicles on the road by 2017. Image: BBQ Junkie/Wikimedia Commons
The market is finally ready for electric vehicles, powered by fuel cells, argue Honda, Hyundai and Toyota

Honda and Hyundai unveiled fuel-cell electric vehicles at the L.A. Auto Show here yesterday, pledging to produce and sell a green car that has proved difficult to move into the mainstream.

The debuts came as Toyota showed a concept fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) at the Tokyo Auto Show.

The launch of the FCEV is a “pivotal moment,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, “the moment when our industry begins to roll out the next-generation electric vehicle.”

“Today, right here, the hydrogen fuel cell is making the shift from a research project to a real consumer choice,” Krafcik said.

The cars, which make electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, do not emit greenhouse gases. Hyundai executives said that when looking at a life-cycle analysis, they are cleaner than “any other powertrain vehicle,” including battery electric cars. That’s true even when natural gas is used to create the hydrogen, said Michael O’Brien, Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning.

At the Honda debut, Tetsuo Iwamura, president and CEO of American Honda Motor Co., said that its FCEV “has the potential to become the ultimate solution to realizing ultra-low carbon mobility.

“Using renewable energy sources such as solar, wind,¬†water, biofuel … the fuel cell has tremendous potential for zero-emissions mobility,” he added.

Fuel cells also are more adaptable, Iwamura said, and can be put in larger and even high-performance vehicles.

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But FCEVs have been difficult to move to mass production because of a lack of fueling stations. Hyundai will sell its car initially only in Southern California, and then later in Northern California. It plans to “pre-screen” customers to make sure they have access to a fueling station, O’Brien said.

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