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Honda FCX Clarity Wins World Green Car of the Year

The title is a relatively new one, but is still prestigious and sought-after by most major carmakers

The World Green Car of the Year is a sub-award of the annual World Car of the Year (WCOTY) handed out by a dedicated organization and chosen by a selection of journalist jurors from around the world. Inaugurated with the award of the Honda Civic Hybrid in 2006, today at the New York Auto Show another Honda was given the award. Taking out top honors for the 2009 World Green Car of the Year awards was the Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.

This year a wide array of production and experimental vehicles were selected, including everything from 'TetraFuel' cars to pure electrics. Because the rules state that production cars must be all-new and available for purchase in at least one major market between January 1 and December 31, 2008, in order to be eligible, there were some odd omissions (the Toyota Prius and VW Jetta TDI, for example) while some other oddballs - like the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon Hybrid and Mitsubishi i-MiEV - made the list.

While you may argue that cars like the i-MiEV and FCX Clarity are not readily available, the rules stipulate that a vehicle can be an experimental prototype with potential near-future application, provided that it was released for individual or press fleet evaluations in quantities of just 10 or more during 2008.

The FCX Clarity was eventually chosen from an initial entry list of 22 contenders nominated by 59 World Car jurors from 25 countries throughout the world. The jurors felt that “The FCX clarity is an utterly real, hydrogen-fuelled luxury sedan that provides the amenities people expect in a premium car with 430km range, fuel consumption of about 3.3 L/100km (72 mpg US) equivalent and zero tailpipe emissions.

Vehicles originally eligible for the 2009 Green World Car of the Year award:
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI
BMW 335d BluePerformance
Chevrolet Tahoe / GMC Yukon Hybrid
Citroën C1
Fiat Palio Weekend Electric
Fiat Siena Tetrafuel model
Honda FCX Clarity
Mazda Hydrogen Rotary RX8
Mercedes-Benz ML/R/GL 320 BlueTEC
MINI Cooper D
MINI E
Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Nissan X-Trail 20 GT
smart ed
Subaru Legacy/Outback PZEV
Tesla Electric Roadster
Toyota iQ
Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe
Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe
Volvo S80 2.5 FT (Flexifuel)
Volvo V50 1.6D DRIVe
Volvo V70 2.5 FT (Flexifuel)​
 

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Discussion Starter #3
SolarPower



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Coming not so soon and probably not to a house near you is the home solar hydrogen refueling station -- Honda Motor Co.'s latest idea in its drive to make hydrogen the fuel of choice for zero-emission cars.

The Japanese automaker believes hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles offer the best long-term alternative to fossil fuels, and the company showed on Friday a refueling breakthrough that it says points to a home version down the road.

Most major automakers have spent billions of dollars in researching hydrogen-powered fuel cells, tempted by the idea of a car that uses no gasoline and emits only water vapor. But Honda is widely seen as the hydrogen leader, while others including General Motors Co. put more effort into battery-powered electric vehicles such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt.

One of the big barriers to hydrogen car deployment is the lack of refueling infrastructure, leading Honda to bet that the future lies in combining a public station network with a more modest home option.

Honda's home option will comprise a solar-powered hydrogen refueling station using solar panels.

"Customers can choose how they interact with both of them based on their annual miles and their habits," said Stephen Ellis, fuel cell manager at the Honda's North American headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

5 minutes, 240 miles

"The key thing to remember is that with five-minute refueling you are good for another 240 miles," Ellis added.

That range comes from the "fast-fill" public station, of which there are just a handful in Southern California, where Honda leases 15 FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered vehicles and is set to distribute more in coming months.

Eight hours of home solar refueling would guarantee a smaller range of 30 miles or about 10,000 miles per year -- enough for an average commuting car.

At the Los Angeles R&D center, engineers refueled the sleek FCX Clarity sedan with a new single-unit station connected to a solar array that replaces a two-unit system, cutting costs and improving efficiency by 25 percent.

"This is wonderful progress, the biggest progress," said Ikuya Yamashita, the chief engineer of the station.

The station uses a 6-kilowatt solar array, composed of 48 panels and thin film solar cells developed by a Honda subsidiary. It breaks down the water into hydrogen in what Honda calls a "virtually carbon-free energy cycle."

The FCX Clarity's hydrogen "stack" -- or the electricity generator -- is around the size of an attache case, tucked between the two front seats, and is a fifth of the stack size developed a decade ago.

The car is likely to be sold commercially around 2018 in the luxury large sedan category, while the solar hydrogen refueling system could move beyond the research stage and into the market-ready phase around 2015.

"A lot of this work is not necessarily for today's economic situation," said Ellis. "This is for tomorrow, when most people feel energy prices will be higher."
 

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Article


Southern California, for all it’s smog (and trust me it still hangs in the San Fernando ‘Valley’ 24-7) it still regarded as the automotive ‘Green’ capital of the world, when it comes to big cities.

There are also thousands of Toyota Prius’ within the California state lines and while they are certainly classified as ‘environmentally friendly’ the ‘Green’ star must surely go to Honda’s FCX Clarity.

Launched in 2008, the Clarity is a proper fuel cell electric vehicle with zero emissions and in some cases, offers 5 minute refuelling times. The other more important news is that the 26 lucky Honda Clarity customers, who lease the car for a grand total of US$600 per month, never have to worry about the price of petrol, regardless of what happens in the Middle East. You see – hydrogen is free. At least, for the time being it is.


FCX Clarity drivers now have access to 7 ‘fast-fill’ hydrogen refuelling stations throughout Southern California and last Friday, the world’s 1st station supplied by an existing hydrogen pipeline opened across the street from Toyota’s Motor Corp’s sales division.

The new Royal Dutch Shell hydrogen station will mainly service test fleets from the likes of Toyota (who incidentally lease the land to Shell), Daimler AG, Hyundai Motor Co and General Motors and of course, those fortunate Honda Clarity drivers.

Honda hopes to have at least 200 FCX Clarity cars on the road within a few years. In traffic congested place like Los Angeles, there is an even greater benefit to driving this ultra green Honda. The deal is that fuel cell vehicles get an automatic ‘white sticker’, which qualifies them to travel in the transit lanes (high occupancy lanes) and that goes for a single driver with no passengers.


It’s a great deal if you can get it, but if it’s that good, why aren’t there thousands of them on the road all over the world?

It’s a question of dollars – they cost plenty to build and it’s likely that Honda looses money on each and every Clarity they make.

5 years ago, Ford said that their fuel cell Focus cost $1 million to build although, Toyota said this year, that the actual costs have come down by 90%, which would mean US$100,000, but that’s still way out of the ball park for average consumers.


That said Toyota says that they also plan to release their own fuel cell model by 2015 at a cost of around US$50,000. It makes huge sense when you weigh up the benefits. Hydrogen can be made from natural gas or water, you can refill your car in minutes with a range of several hundred kilometres or more and the clincher, and there are no exhaust emissions.

Whichever way you cut it, the only sustainable fuel model for the global automotive industry is hydrogen fuel cells. The Hybrids and electric plug-in vehicles are simply stop/gap solutions while the collective technology partners work it all out on the fuel cell front.


 
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