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Honda Rolls Out Clarity, Confirms Hydrogen Car Talks with General Motors

Project could speed up sales of fuel-cell vehicles.

by on Mar.10, 2016

Honda Chief Executive Officer Takahiro Hachigo with the maker's Clarity fuel-cell vehicle.

Honda has officially rolled out its new Clarity fuel-cell-vehicle, with sales set to begin in Japan before expanding to the United States later this year.

The Japanese automaker becomes the third to come to market with a zero-emissions hydrogen car, though it expects sales numbers to be extremely small in the near-term.

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Longer-term, Honda is hoping to improve the viability of fuel-cell technology, while also lowering costs as part of a proposed manufacturing partnership with General Motors, the Japanese maker’s CEO said Thursday, confirming a prior report on TheDetroitBureau.com. GM separately acknowledged discussions are underway.

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Honda’s Hydrogen-Powered Clarity to Cost $60,000

Japanese maker set to be third to market fuel-cell vehicle.

by on Jan.22, 2016

Honda revealed its Clarity fuel-cell vehicle in LA, and will put it into production later this year.

Honda’s new Clarity Fuel Cell sedan might be able to save the environment, but it’s likely to cut into the saving of customers who want to buy one.

The hydrogen car, set to reach U.S. showrooms “before the end of 2016,” will carry a sticker price of around $60,000, according to the Japanese maker, about $2,000 more than the Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle launched late last year. But, at $499 a month, the Clarity will go for the same lease rate as the Mirai and a hydrogen-powered version of Hyundai’s Tucson SUV.

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“The company will start by leasing vehicles and expects to move to retail sales with increased volumes and market coverage,” Honda said in a news release. Initially, it noted, the Clarity Fuel Cell sedan will be offered only in Los Angeles and Orange countries, and around San Francisco and the California capital of Sacramento.

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Honda Proclaims 2015 is “The Year of Honda”

FCV finally gets production date after Takata delay.

by on Jan.13, 2015

After a being delayed due to the Takata airbag problem, FCV production will start next year. Photo credit: Len Katz

Honda’s much ballyhooed fuel cell vehicle, the aptly named FCV, made its North American debut today at the Detroit Auto Show. The car is slated for production sometime next year and will hit showrooms in late ’16 or early ’17.

However, the Japanese automaker seems more focused on a bigger picture here in the Motor City. It’s calling 2015 “The Year of Honda.” While it seems awfully presumptuous on the surface, the company has reason to be excited: it’s long-awaited Honda Jet is finally getting off the ground, the FCV overcame some hurdles – including being impacted by the Takata seat belt fiasco – to finally find city streets and Honda is returning to Formula One racing.

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“No other automaker in the world has the depth of R&D know-how and experience to create such a diverse array of advanced technology products, let alone bring them to market,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (more…)

Airbag Safety Problems Delay Honda Hydrogen Vehicle Launch

But near-production concept set to debut at Detroit Auto Show.

by on Dec.18, 2014

The latest version of the Honda FCV Concept will make its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Honda’s new fuel-cell vehicle has fallen victim to the maker’s airbag safety problems. With key engineering talent diverted to deal with the exploding Takata airbag issue, Honda won’t launch the production version of the new FCV model until early in 2016, senior company officials revealed.

But a near-production concept version of the new fuel-cell vehicle will still make its debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

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It will show “the styling evolution” that has taken place since Honda first showed off its FCV Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in late 2012, said John Mendel, Honda’s top U.S. executive.

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GM, Honda Launch Fuel Cell Partnership

Partners aiming for mass market-ready hydrogen cars by 2020.

by on Jul.02, 2013

GM is testing the viability of its hydrogen-powered Equinox prototype as part of a Hawaiian pilot program.

The following story has been updated with the latest developments.

General Motors and Honda plan to team up in an effort to bring zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell technology to the mass market by the end of the decade, the makers formally announced Tuesday morning.

Both GM and Honda have already begun fielding small test fleets of hydrogen-powered vehicles – as have a number of competitors including Toyota and Mercedes-Benz – but the goal of the new effort is to help solve nagging technical obstacles while driving costs down to mass-market levels. The makers also hope that by making a serious commitment to fuel cell technology they will encourage the energy industry to expand the availability of hydrogen, something essential to encourage consumer acceptance.

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“The widespread use of future fuel cell vehicles requires a significant advance in cost reduction… and in the refueling infrastructure that will support them,” Tetsuo Iwamura, president of American Honda Motor Co., said during a joint news conference in New York City.  “Two companies can do more together than the simple sum of our individual efforts.”

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BMW-Toyota Alliance Could Signal Revival of Fuel Cell

The technology of tomorrow?

by on Jan.24, 2013

BMW and Toyota officials celebrate their new fuel cell alliance. Shaking hands, in center, are Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and BMW Chairman Nobert Reithofer.

BMW and Toyota officials today formed a strategic alliance aimed at developing hydrogen-based fuel cell technology – as well as a new “sports vehicle” that will run on the clean, high-mileage gas.

The binding agreement, earlier reported by TheDetroitBureau.com, could help revive interest in the use of hydrogen, a source of energy that some proponents believe will eventually prove the cleanest and most efficient way to power automobiles.  Significant technical advancements have been made in recent years and the BMW-Toyota alliance appears aimed at overcoming the remaining challenges.

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“Toyota and the BMW Group are seizing this unique chance to lead the industry towards the future of mobility,” declared Dr. Herbert Diess, the BMW board member who will oversee the project.  “The binding agreement we signed today moves us one step closer to achieving this vision.”

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Is Hydrogen Power Making a Comeback?

Nissan, Hyundai among makers willing to putting fuel-cell vehicles into production.

by on Oct.08, 2012

Nissan says it would consider putting a fuel cell vehicle like the TeRRA concept into production.

“Hydrogen is the clean, efficient power for the future,” goes the old joke among engineers, “and it always will be.”  Like the sign that offers “free beer…tomorrow,” it’s a cynical sign that while hydrogen power could ultimately be one of the cleanest possible sources of energy, it never seems to quite reach the mass production stage.

Yet, there are small but telling signs that this may soon change.  A growing number of automakers are planning to launch limited production of vehicles using hydrogen fuel cell technology. General Motors, meanwhile, has moved its hydrogen research center in an upstate New York outpost to one of its main Detroit engineering campuses.

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And Dept. of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has signaled a growing interest in hydrogen after earlier dismissing the technology and shifting more than $100 million in federal research money from fuel cells to batteries.

Hydrogen seemed all the rage within the auto industry at the dawn of the new Millennium. And a cursory understanding explained why: the lightweight gas is the most abundant element in the universe and, when used in a fuel cell system, produces electricity and water vapor rather than the harmful emissions found in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine.

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Honda Looks Beyond New Fit EV

Maker isn’t plugging all eggs into one electric basket.

by on Nov.18, 2011

Honda will begin leasing the Fit EV for $399 a month next summer, in California and Oregon.

Honda took the wraps off its first battery-electric vehicle, the2013 Honda  Fit EV, which will roll into showrooms in select markets next summer.

But the Japanese maker, an early pioneer in hybrid technology, is clearly not ready to plug all its eggs into one electric basket.  While it will expand its battery car efforts, company officials stress they’re not walking away from other alternative powertrain solutions – which range from natural gas to hydrogen, as well as even cleaner gasoline engines.

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“We don’t know if the answer is electric or hydrogen or natural gas,” cautioned Mike Accavitti, the maker’s U.S. marketing chief, “so, at Honda, we’re working on all of them.”

Honda has opted for a lease-only approach for the Fit EV, the base car planned to carry a $399 monthly charge based on an estimated $36,625 MSRP.

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Hydrogen Power Could Go Mainstream After All

Over 5,000 fueling stations will be in use by 2020, says study.

by on Jul.19, 2011

GM is testing the viability of its hydrogen-powered Equinox prototype as part of a Hawaiian pilot program.

Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, goes the old saw, and always will be.  A decade ago, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were being billed as the green power source of choice, but interest has waned, in recent years as emphasis shifts to battery power.

But a new study suggests there’ll be a big market for the clean, lightweight gas, after all.  According to Pike Research, there will be at least 5,200 hydrogen fueling stations in operation around the globe by 2020, the result of an estimated $8.4 billion investment effort.

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Demand for the fuel is forecast to grow to 418 million kilograms (920 million pounds) annually, compared to 775,000 kilograms (1.7 million pounds) today.

“Currently, the major players in hydrogen fueling are large multinationals: the industrial gas companies, and the energy and gas companies, both those that operate retail gas stations and those that provide fuels for the grid. These companies tend to favor large-scale hydrogen infrastructure options,” explains Pike senior analyst Lisa Jerram.

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Chevy Goes Solar to Power Volt Plant

Massive solar array could keep 150 battery cars running.

by on May.11, 2011

GM will cover six acres at its Chevy Volt plant with solar power arrays.

General Motors has been telling potential buyers to plug in with the new Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle.  Now the maker wants to do the same thing, plugging into a new solar power array at the Volt plant in Detroit.

The 516-kilowatt grid will be the largest in the region and is expected to provide enough power to keep 150 Chevy Volts fully powered at all times.  Were the system used to charge up the plug-in hybrids as they roll off the assembly line, before shipment to customers, the solar array would be able to handle nearly 55,000 of the battery cars annually – significantly more than GM has plans to produce in the near future, so surplus energy will help power the plant itself.

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“This array will significantly decrease energy consumption by combining solar power with ongoing efficiency tactics such as lighting and equipment upgrades and automating equipment shut-down,” said Bob Ferguson, vice president of GM Public Policy.

The 264,000 square-foot solar array is being developed in cooperation with local power provider DTE Energy, which is investing $3 million into the project.  That underscores the challenges proponents of green energy face making a viable business case.  The array is expected to cut GM’s energy bill by $15,000 annually, which means the so-called payback period would stretch out over several centuries.

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