The Honda FCV Concept is essentially a further evolution of the FCX Clarity, featuring a fuel-cell powertrain that fits into the front engine compartment of the vehicle, saving valuable room within the cabin.
According to Honda, the fuel-cell stack will now be able to produce up to and more than 100 kilowatts of power output. The power density is also improved is now 3.1 kilowatts per liter, a 60% increase on the Clarity. Additionally, the stack size has also been reduced by a third.
With a range of 300 miles and a refuel time of 5-7 minutes it would be easy to get carried away and assume that Honda had finally found the solution to the ever-growing energy crisis problem. Though the concept shows great ambition and a plausible means for the future, we simply just aren’t ready yet.
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Are We Really Ready for Hydrogen Vehicles?
The complexity of bringing a fuel such as hydrogen into an already seemingly prehistoric fueling infrastructure across the world would be no easy task. Joseph Romm estimated that to alter the entire existing fueling system across the US in order to accommodate hydrogen fuel would cost half a trillion US dollars.
The only authorities with enough cash to fund such a project are the oil companies such as BP, but while there’s still oil to be found and with fracking having an increasing effect in the search for precious oil, that seems very unlikely.
[sam_ad id=”3″ codes=”true”]There are currently around 100 hydrogen fueling stations in the US and, while there are plans and funding in place to ensure growth on this number, the hydrogen fuel vehicle doesn’t have anywhere as much momentum as the EV or electric-hybrid vehicle markets.
With just under 20,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the US, it’s easy to see why some doubt the likelihood that hydrogen can live up to its hailed glory and be the super-fuel that many were anticipating it would achieve 10 years ago.
A vehicle powered purely by hydrogen would produce zero carbon emissions. When the hydrogen fuel is burned, the byproduct is simply water and heat. As great as the concept is, actually bringing hydrogen fuel into practice doesn’t just flag financial problems (the complexity of creating hydrogen on earth, implementing into our current systems, etc.), but also danger. We need only look at the Hindenburg airship back in 1937 to see the sheer power contained within hydrogen.
According to the American National Standards Institute, hydrogen requires only one 10th as much energy to ignite as gasoline does.
What the Future of Hydrogen Vehicles Looks Like
The FCV Concept probably won’t win any prizes for the best looking vehicle, especially when compared to the other hybrid plug-ins and full EV that are currently or will be on the market by 2015. What this car does do however, is show that there is still a possible market for the completely green fuel that is hydrogen. Work is still in its early days in terms of creating a viable solution and Honda seems very keen to lead the hydrogen fuel industry.
Hydroden does have many downfalls; mainly safety in storage as well as cost. But if enough interest is shown and with industry leaders such as Toyota and Mercedes-Benz looking into the hydrogen fuel market, it may not be too long before we see more cars like the FCV Concept.
The FCV Concept is set for sale as soon as early 2016.