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Discussion Starter #1
President Barack Obama eliminated former President George W. Bush’s $1.2 billion plan to develop cars powered by hydrogen fuel-cells. The move wills save you, the taxpayers, a whopping $100 million annually.

“The probability of deploying hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the next 10 to 20 years is low,” Energy Department spokesman Tom Welch told Automotive News.

According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Obama administration plans to target more immediate fuel-saving solutions.

Welch said that there is a large cost involved with developing infrastructures for hydrogen fueling stations for cars. He said that there are also huge technical obstacles to produce hydrogen and storing it in vehicle as a fuel-source.

President Obama’s fiscal 2010 budge proposal has $68.2 million for fuel-cell technologies, down form $169 million last year.

, Moderator Emeritus
5,757 Posts
Hydrogen cars aren't something that would be worthwhile, nor would it be affordable for the average family to own. Also, the infrastructure isn't enough for someone to use the car for daily routines. I rather see big SUVs get taxed heavily and small cars become more mainstream and have incentives to buy them. Small cars and hybrids are the way to go for now, but electric cars are the best bet in the future!

, Moderator Emeritus
1,003 Posts
I believe this will be a costly mistake... I understand the need to "target more immediate fuel saving solutions" but isn't this more short sighted thinking?

After all, it was the same short-term planning that got us into this mess in the first place. If the gov't had started seriously developing alternative solutions this back in 1973 we might not be in this mess.

Every time you hear about a solution that takes more than 3 years to develop... the gov't kills it (or maybe the lobbyists?)

3,436 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Honda Forging Ahead

Honda, GM Stick to Fuel Cell Plans as Obama Guts Hydrogen Funds
Alan Ohnsman and Tina Seeley Alan Ohnsman And Tina Seeley – Mon May 11, 12:00 am ET

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. say they’ll push ahead with development of hydrogen-powered autos after the Obama administration gutted fuel-cell funding plans in favor of biofuels and batteries.

U.S. Energy Department funding for hydrogen-related projects would be cut by 60 percent to $68.2 million next fiscal year under budget plans that President Barack Obama presented last week. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the department will concentrate on projects such as hydrogen power for buildings because it’s unlikely the fuel can be widely deployed for vehicles anytime soon.

“Honda has a significant commitment to fuel cells and we’re going to pursue it,” said Ed Cohen, vice president of U.S. government and industry affairs for the Tokyo-based automaker, in an interview. “We have a limited number of options to achieve transportation objectives which include less use of petroleum and reducing greenhouse gases. Hydrogen is one of them.”

Carmakers for a decade poured billions of dollars into developing electric models powered by hydrogen, promoting the fuel as an eventual replacement for oil and a way to cut carbon exhaust linked to global warming. While the driving performance of Honda, GM and Toyota hydrogen models rivals gasoline-engine vehicles, hurdles include high production and materials costs, durability and a lack of fueling stations.

Those issues, along with a need for better fuel tanks and to find ways to make large amounts of hydrogen from sources other than natural gas, limit the technology's appeal, Chu said at a press briefing May 7 on the proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Rejecting Bush Priority

The move rejects a priority of President George W. Bush, who in his 2003 State of the Union speech to Congress called for $1.2 billion in spending on hydrogen-powered cars.

“We’re going to be moving away from hydrogen-fuel cells for vehicles,”
Chu said. “We asked ourselves, is it likely in the next 10 or 15, or even 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy? The answer, we felt, was no.”

Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, led research of biofuels at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, when Obama named him to run the Energy Department.

The agency is boosting biofuel funds 8.3 percent to $235 million. Support for advanced battery-powered and gasoline- engine autos will grow 22 percent to $333.3 million.

The cut for hydrogen was described in Energy Department materials as a reduction of “less effective programs so we can invest in our economic future.”

Fuel cells, typically layers of plastic film and precious metals sandwiched together, generate electricity in a chemical process that combines hydrogen and oxygen. Water vapor is the only byproduct.

Honda’s FCX Clarity

Cheaper, longer-lasting fuel-cell stack and hydrogen-tank materials should be ready in five years, Honda President Takeo Fukui said in an April 23 interview in Detroit. Fukui, 64, is retiring as head of Japan’s second-largest carmaker next month.

Honda began selling the FCX Clarity in Los Angeles last year, charging $600 a month to lease the five-passenger sedan for three years. Actress Q’orianka Kilcher got her new Clarity, the second fuel-cell car she’s leased from Honda, in Santa Monica, California, at the same time Chu announced the funding cuts.

The U.S. rates Clarity as traveling 240 miles (386 kilometers) when fueled with 3.9 kilograms of hydrogen gas, the equivalent of 60 miles per gallon of fuel.

GM loans 115 Chevrolet Equinox sport-utility vehicles to individuals and companies to acquaint people with fuel-cell technology.

GM’s Reinvention

“Hydrogen is a key to solving the nation’s mid- to long- term issues of energy security, reduced petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions as well as being part of the reinvention of General Motors,” said Larry Burns, vice president of research and development and strategic planning for Detroit-based GM.

Toyota said in January it will sell fuel-cell cars in 2015, and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Germany’s Daimler AG also are planning hydrogen vehicles for retail customers.

“Our program will continue unaffected by this,”
said John Hanson, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. unit in Torrance, California, responding to the Obama budget cuts. “The vehicles have been invented. The issues are infrastructure and how do we reduce cost.”

As the U.S. pulls back, Japan, Germany and South Korea are expanding fuel-cell programs and California, home to the largest fleet of such models, this year set aside $40 million to open more hydrogen stations.

Honda and Toyota, based outside the U.S., can’t receive federal funds for their programs. “The only downside I see is the possibility this is going to slow development of fueling infrastructure that we need,” Hanson said.

‘Very Disappointing’

The policy shift is “very disappointing,” said Dan Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis and a member of the state’s Air Resources Board. The agency has authority to set environmental rules for carmakers and other industries rivaling the federal government’s.

“It’s unclear how we’re going to get big reductions in greenhouse gas emissions without hydrogen,”
Sperling said. “Hydrogen is the most challenging in terms of implementation because of the need for new fueling infrastructure.”

That could be created in 10 to 15 years at less cost than the “$6 billion to $10 billion” the U.S. provides annually in subsidies for corn ethanol, Sperling said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles [email protected] ; Tina Seeley in Washington at [email protected]
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