FCX Concept at NA Auto Show
Last week, Honda exhibited their incredible FCX Concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This futuristic fuel cell vehicle runs on compressed hydrogen and emits nothing but water vapor from its tailpipe. It can go 270 miles on a tank of hydrogen (refillable from your home natural gas hookup) with the kind of reliability and performance we’ve come to expect from Honda. A car like this could turn the tide against global warming, foreign oil dependence, and the continued depletion of vanishing resources, but how long will we have to wait for this future promise to become a reality??? How about later this year?!
As recently as 2002, hydrogen fuel cell technology had been dismissed as too cumbersome and impractical to ever be of any use to the automotive industry. Fortunately, Honda refused to listen. The Honda fuel cell stack, which just a few years ago was the size of a refrigerator and weighed more than most cars, has been streamlined down to the size of a small suitcase while output has beenincreased by over 40%. The current stack allows for a very comfortable cabin, while swiftly propelling the car to 100 MPH.
The styling is 21st century; with very clean aerodynamic lines, a luxurious, spacious interior, and an instrument panel that looks more like the hyper-drive control from the Millennium-Falcon than a traditional automobile dashboard.
The previous major holdback for fuel cell vehicles was the lack of fueling stations. Honda has come up with an innovative solution to this problem with the “Honda Energy Station III.” This easy to install system connects right to your home natural gas source for easy refueling right at home. As hydrogen vehicles become more prevalent, many if not all gas stations will be forced to offer hydrogen as well as gasoline and diesel if they want to remain competitive, but for now, an excellent alternative already exists.
Here’s more about what Honda has to say about this incredible new car/technology…
DETROIT, U.S.A., January 8, 2007–The fully-functional Honda FCX Concept vehicle on display at the North American International Auto Show features a newly developed compact, high-efficiency Honda FC Stack as well as a low-floor, low-riding, short-nose body. It offers a comfortably large cabin and futuristic styling along with significant improvements in power output and environmental performance. Limited marketing of a totally new fuel cell vehicle based on this concept model is to begin in 2008 in Japan and the U.S.
To meet Honda objectives for significant gains in both environmental and driving performance, the FCX Concept is equipped with a V Flow fuel cell platform consisting of a compact, high-efficiency fuel cell stack arranged in an innovative center-tunnel layout. This has allowed designers to create an elegant, low-riding, sedan form that would have been difficult to achieve in a conventional fuel cell vehicle. This new fuel cell stack is 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than the current FCX FC Stack, yet its power output is 14kW greater. The drive motor has been positioned coaxially with the gearbox for a more compact design, with output increased by 15kW. Overall, the power plant is about 180kg lighter than that of the current FCX and about 40 percent smaller in volume. The result is improved energy efficiency and performance along with a more spacious interior.
While with previous fuel cell stacks the hydrogen and the water formed in electricity generation flowed horizontally, the new FCX Concept features vertical-flow design. This allows gravity to assist in discharging the water that is produced, resulting in a major improvement in water drainage, key to high-efficiency fuel stack performance. The result is stable power generation under a broad range of conditions, and higher output from a smaller package. Low-temperature startup has also been significantly improved, enabling cold-weather starts at temperatures 10ºC lower than the current FCX – as low as minus 30ºC.
As an auxiliary power source, the FCX Concept carries a compact, high-efficiency lithium ion battery, contributing to increased power output and a more compact power plant. These efficiency improvements to major power plant components give the vehicle a travel range approximately 30 percent greater than the current FCX. The vehicle is also highly efficient, with an energy efficiency of around 60 percent – approximately three times that of a gasoline-engine vehicle, twice that of a hybrid vehicle, and 10 percent better than the current FCX.
Other features include seat upholstery and door linings made from Honda Bio-Fabric, a plant-based material that offers outstanding durability and resistance to sunlight damage. Other improvements such as Shift-by-Wire and a newly designed instrument panel with easy-to-read display of hydrogen fuel consumption facilitate improved ease of operation.
The new fuel cell vehicle currently under development for release in 2008, will feature the principle technologies of the FCX Concept to achieve a new dimension in environmentally friendly driving pleasure not found with gasoline-engine vehicles.
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